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Found 256 results

  1. Trip: Mt Cleator - Tubby Needs Cheese 5.8+, 9 pitches, 1,000'+ Trip Date: 09/01/2019 Trip Report: It's been a spell since my last report; I offer a tale of an ascetic and a hedonist climbing yet another irrelevant obscurity in their quest for entertainment and raw truth. The weather forecast pointed them east, and Mt Cleator appeared to fit the bill. After a pleasant trail tramp past Buck Mtn and establishing camp, the dialectic duo scouted and debated a number of lines available, and provisionally settled on the cleanest looking one. The line emanates from near the main summit (not the N tower), and is a NW jutting rib that appears to share the granitic character of the pluton on nearby Berge--very little schist encountered. (Other options abound on the N side of this peak up to the N tower, but even these impaired codgers reckoned unappealing the primarily grubby schist on these longer lines toeing down more directly to Buck Cr. They agreed to buy beer for any whippersnapper climbing one of these lines.) For the full Cascades sub-alpinism experience, approach directly from a camp near Buck Creek, where the trail passes close to the creek. Romp up pleasant alp slopes to a band of cliffy terrain, then bunk-jungle up steep alder to pass a waterfall. This approach grants access to the upper basin and the several lines available on the northwestern quadrant of the mountain. For the descent enjoy the scenic trail tour return via Buck Creek Pass. Lots of wildlife encountered--bear, coyotes calling at each other (probably about the bear), deer, etc. The climb's more-technical and mental challenges are concentrated in pitches 2, 3, 8 and 9. (Unfortunately, not many climbing pics taken.) Pitch 2: while the self-styled epicurean showered his pathetic self with sod digging for pro and holds, the wannabe stylite laughed derisively. Pitch 3: the ascetic got his come-uppance, "I wanna go home", but eventually pieced together a lead to the crest of the rib. The middle pitches were more scrambly, mostly mid-fifth and easier. Pitch 8: a sweet, relatively steep and juggy corner. Pitch 9: interspersed short splitters and varied climbing, beautiful and exposed ridge rambling with steeper steps. P1: P3: P6(?), climber low center: On average, the over-indulger and the self-depriver make for a balanced human. In an alternate universe the roles could be switched, and maybe the pair would climb splitter cracks on impeccable stone; but in this one, they reconcile themselves to seeking new lines on inconsistent rock with their mercifully impaired memories. On this climb, a somewhat dirty beginning becomes more enjoyable higher (and with distance). It's difficult to get a well-defined shot of the line. Here's a flavor: Tubby Needs Cheese begins to the left of the shaded red streak on far right, a few hundred ft below that tiny spot of sunshine on the ridge, and continues up to and then on the right skyline. Tubby tops out in the horizontal strip of sunshine, or perhaps just out of view behind the pyramidal feature to the left of it. (The sunlit tower is in the foreground relative to the main summit.) Beckey's CAG vol 2 (2nd ed.) has a good pic of it along with Buck on page 160, swooping down from the main summit clearly marked MT CLEATOR. And from the west, hiking toward Buck Pass: A shot on the way home on Labor Day, TNC in the shade on right toeing down just left of the snow in the basin: More pics (recommend click on 'info' to see descriptions for many): https://photos.app.goo.gl/P2U5SJgB8jU1eQBo8 Gear Notes: Double rack through 3, a 4, some nuts. We didn't use our pins, but some folk might want to. Approach Notes: Park at Trinity. Buck Creek trail, etc. -- see above.
  2. Trip: Tower Rock - FA - Rapunzel's Back in Rehab - C1 Date: 7/15/2015 Trip Report: The Beast - don't be fooled, them thare are full-grown trees Tower Rock, 2 hours from everywhere, appears oddly neglected - Brown Beckey's got the tiniest blurb of the single route up it done in 1982 (anyone know of a second ascent? i can't find anyone who's tried it) but no picture n' no topo - tim olson's oregon rock guide has some more detail than beckey, but still the vast monolith appears to have continued unloved tower's just south of randle, an unladen swallow's flight from the cispus river - the face is gigantic,something like 1200 feet tall - the rock is basaltic, according to beckey, but like nothing i've seen - like over-baked brownies, it's composed of a hodge-podge of components - incredibly solid and compact, it's cross-hatched in all directions, crackless, and crumbles into bricks and blocks of all conceivable sizes - the tower looms over it's talus field, fiercely steep, it's upper-wall reminiscent of the right side of el cap, incredibly bulging and over-hanging tower is composed of two giant faces seperated by a ledge/fault system that was the path taken by the first team to climb the face - currently, after 7 days of effort, our route climbs the lower wall - it'll be just as much work to finish the upper wall, if the rock quality holds as it currently exists yeah, there's a lot more to go, but as it stands, what's there is 600 feet tall and a great day-tripper's aid adventure already - i figure the worst that can come of telling folks about this now before it's complete is that some other sad fools can go do it for me trip the first: fuck, this happened so long off i wonder if my recollection's right at all - me n' bill n' ben in the late winter - a burr up their bespectacled asses about a mythical 10-pitch free route up a largely untouched tower - the plan to hike to the top then set a rap-line down the likely route - out of town on a friday night to the frightful fall of rain - ghetto camp before the gate in gales of damnable damp - the roar of frogs - the next morning the most sordid thang - endless hours uphill w/ drill n' bolts n' chains in the continuous cloud-fuck n' frenzied chilly breeze - near the summit gob-smacked to gain a blazed trail barely a mile from a seasonal road - the top a huge disappointment, it characterized by clouds and beaming rainbows and rock so rude they rarely accoladed the attribution - soon there after the weekend righteously concluded and me around for the sweet family on the sabbath trip the second: on the reconnaissance earlier, dejected at finding a kitty-litter summit, we'd paused after a tortuous overladen descent on the boulder field and pondered on future options - a man w/ an aid-climber's conscious could do a take on "infinite bliss" and find a bitching way up the crazy big blank face - it was sure to take a mort of mortal work, but bill n' geoff are true gentlemen all measured and solid for this kinda goofy shit - we banged up from p-town on a friday night and made camp up at the turn around on the forest road - stumble-fucking up the forest we arrived amazed and ready to ramble on - many mozzies n' deer flies this damned trip - pitch 1 went quickly between geoff and bill, the later bounding up free on low-angle stacked mossy talus to make an anchor atop tier 1 - me i got tier 2 - all bolts at first until i no longer feared the ledge, then lotza 2-hook moves in a row until reaching the top of the tier where i left a fixed hook to protect a low-angle romp to the second anchor - we retired to camp n' soggy fires n' fulsome screeching music - day 2 we jugged to the top of p2 and bill and geoff got up a ways before yielding to me, whereupon i drilled n' hooked to a high point we marked w/ red tat before descending and returning to our troubled and lonely little lives - i recollect getting a true n' glorious drunk on in the passenger seat n' slumbering back to vantucky geoff putting up the first pitch on the scrubby, compact low-angle first tier the artist as a young asshole ascending the second steeper tier geoff workign on pitch 3, the first steps onto the very steep lower wall trip the third: lovely ospreys n' robins round the lake - pete n' pam play camp hosts - camp weddings n' nightly fishing sheenaningans - muskrats n' pond-skimming swallows - bastard mozzies n' mean biting flies, mostly in obeisance for the first couple cold days, but growing in malevolence as the weather waxed towards wicked hot - the sweet ne face of Tower almost totally shade-soaked for the mid-morning riser - kids n' retirees n' rv's n' jumping trout n' tame dogs - the listless routines of an aimless life - awake w/ the sun - fresh shits n' dewy breakfasts - a short but grim uphill grind through steep forest w/ plentiful windfall, shirt soaked through by the time we hit the sunny talus field at the base but soon blessed w/ shade - warm juggy work to start and then to the serious business - fear frenzies despite being armed w/ all the wonderful war machines of modern man - a long time of terror n' toil - the day dispatched, we make a rapid descent, each time by a different winding way - beer n' stripping soaked clothes off at the mercifully close car - me auolde yosemite food bin rummaged through for a desperate dinner, usually of beer n' tobacco n' pringles n' whatever benevolent bill threw my way - an hour or so of bird-watching n' binge-reading on maggie thatcher's frigid teeming fucking bush - to sleep at the post-gloaming in a grand 6-man tent alone, racked out on a queen sized inflatable air mattress, wrapped in down and dozy drunkenness - the night passed moaning to sore muscles as i twist n' turn until the dawn drags me to my addled senses, then it all runs off the reel much as it reckoned the day before... first several days of murmurings n' mumblings w/ just me n' bill (me a damn baby in comparison to my venerable and august elder - that baby weighing in at a mean 250 bare-nekkid pounds and a coward to boot of course) - bill a bastion of genteel sincerity that must sadly have bitch-left this world many generations ago - me strangely silent of song for days - my mind scrambled and saddened by the robust requirements of 6-weeks of family-left sorrows gone off in the valley - eventually songs to lift my times and shape my senses - "mining for gold" by the cowboy junkies running on an eternal loop in my mind - long after-shocks of "burn down the mission" caused by geoff for sure after 3 days of toil we grow weary and call in the cavalry - the silverman boys gonna come down n' save us from our misery - we make a rest day out of walking the mountain side w/ them, then retiring to the big boulder to pound pbr's n' provide Adult Supervision - they lounge around camp afterwards, contemplating on crashing the redneck wedding well under-way - we smoke bales of weed n' cackle n' cough n' find high times are treasure enough in this wicked world - eventually all good things must get on the bus w/ gandhi though and they roll off into the night in the hms revenge, ready i hope to return for more the last day done-off as surely as a band-aid - after a fearful arduous jug up the wild steep fixed lines ole bill baits the question ("good news or bad?" - which would you take?) - - dedication to a last day of determined work - 5 hours of bolting and hooking on endless steep traversing ground until i was gut-wrenched at what it was likely to take me to get get back to bill - epic amounts of gear left as i rapped into the void and quickly grew dependent on bill to reel me back in - the retreat then fully declared we rapped n' ruminated n' laid our plans like parchment paper, all of it ultimately putting us on sweet terra-firma w/ a fuck-load of gear to get off - surprised by bill's pronouncement of this day, i had no proper pack to cram all the crap into eventually we ambled on down the way, me overloaded like a gypsy carnival-whore w/ rope-bags aplenty such that i swooned on multiple occasions as the straps cut into me wind-pipe and i passed yards off unyielding to gratuitous thoughts, my mind in a true and lovely gray place - the last night spent in part w/ militant california-paul, such as exemplar of that shakespearean clap-trap about sounding of fuck-all and negative fury, yet yielding nothing our objective from the relative sanity of the rv park n' its teeming trout pond white-boys jugging the first 2 tiers - at this angle the lower wall takes up most of the entire frame, but the upper wall's just as big n' steeper 700 feet of ropes n' route-making machine just starting the second pitch bags of bolts n' drills n' bullshit - starting to install pitch 4 geoff at the top of p4, kyle jugging up to the mid-pt anchor closing thoughts: happy to share the discovery w/ the nw brethren - leave yer self-righteous bolting morals at home w/ yer bitches - the place went unloved for a reason - the only cracks evident are where awful rock-fall is just a geologic fart-in-a-stiff-wind away - if intending to push the route higher (what's there is plenty for a day-tripper), please let me or bill or geoff know so one of us can come along - perhaps a dozen separate lines could be pushed to the top in the same style, each likely to take weeks n' 1000$ to put in place - recon trip to the top found almost no real rock up there - at some point all lines must turn to awful kitty litter, but maybe it'll go anyhow? topo as it currently stands - hope to see this fucker get taller in the fullness of insensible time Gear Notes: - up to 30+ draws if clipping all bolts - 2 bathooks (talons can work, but they risk blowing out the drilled holes) - ideally 2 70 meter ropes, but 2 60'S can work if careful - cheater stick not bad idea, as many of the bolts were installed by a fear-fucked orangutan at his max reach - lower off tat or quick-links/biners for follower at traversing parts - helmets essential - much potential for rockfall of all sizes, especially if hauling or jugging - base area very dangerous in strong winds or if below climbers on first 2 approach pitches - upper pitches largely protected from natural rockfall (be careful up there ) Approach Notes: Exit 68 off i5 - east on 12 to randle (about an hour) - right (south) turn at randle (follow signs for tower rock RV park) - quick left about a mile south of randle, then another turn right about 6 miles later - rt turn at tower rock RV park/cispus learning center signs - left onto logging road (75?76?) just a 100 yards before rt turn to tower rock forest service camp (or straight for another mile to the RV park) - forest road is closed at gate near main road during winter/early spring - about 1 1/2 mile up road (stay on main road at split a 1/2 mile up) there's a turn around (about .25 mile past a steep switchback) - from there you can continue in car but there's no turnaround - walk or drive 1/4 mile to road-end - at wierd stone-forest-altar begin hiking up steep forrested slope - about 45 minutes to base - occasional game and human trails, generally trending right and up - copious windfall in middle section of trail - steeper for last 1/3 of trail - idea is to skirt talus field on right and join base from tree at right edge of wall - 1st bolt is just 5 feet off ground near clump of trees about 50 feet above a huge lounge-like boulder that is a great/safe observation spot descent: currently rapping from top of p5 to top of p4 is extra-ordinarly hard - in the future ideally there'll be a rap line straight down through p5 - for now be prepared to leave a fixed line to get back to the top of p4 and for the first rapper to have to haul the second back over - descending from the top of p4 requires 2 70 meter ropes or a stop at the mid-pt anchor (no rings) - the rap overhangs but you just barely touch the wall at the mid-pt anchor - use terrain to help you rap in the right direction
  3. On August 13 and 14, Rolf Larson and I -- henceforth little and big jackass respectively -- pioneered a line on the North Face of South Hozomeen (properly: Hozomeen Mountain, South Peak). If you've seen it, you know this thing is intimidating and steep. (By some objective measures, this peak is one of the steepest in the lower 48, and "... the South Peak ... has the steepest North Face of any peak in the Northwest.") We'd gawked at it from N Hozomeen three years ago, speculating that a massive, slanting dihedral feature might be the only feasible route for mortal climbers. Turns out it was feasible, just. Our line begins directly beneath the overhanging summit, travels more or less straight up to gain what we've dubbed (in respectful honor of Fred) the feature, and then primarily grinds up the right-hand facet of the giant corner to reach the summit ridge a couple/few pitches from the summit. ( BTW, big props to Beckey bros and crew, who summitted this beast in 1947 via the SW route. Inspiring. A movie honoring Fred worth sponsoring, if you somehow missed it: ) North Face, IV+, 5.9. 13 pitches to the W ridge, plus a short pitch to join the top of the SW route and then take in its crux pitch. We shiver-bivvied on a sloping ledge 11 pitches up, perched on the exposed right margin of the dihedral, a couple thousand feet above the basin--pretty cool. As far as we know, no other route has been established on this face. The pitches went 5.8, 5.8, 5.8, 4th, 4th, 4th (80+m, some simul-climbing), 5.7, 5.7, 5.8, 5.8, 5.8, 5.9, and 5.7. The last half+ (7 pitches) followed the Pissburger Dihedral. Then an easy pitch on the crest, and the "5.6" final pitch of the standard SW route. [Apologies for so many words and so few photos--album link below. Google recently shut down Picasa, with which it was easy to re-size and embed photos--the new product lacks functionality, and I lack time for extensive photo shenanigans.] This photo courtesy of Jason Griffith; belays marked w/ circles: For context, here's a shot of both Hozos taken from SE Mox Peak a few weeks ago. S Hozomeen is on the right, its north face is in shadow: https://goo.gl/photos/LpzJ1EdPNKHfLpDr5 And a shot of little jackass climbing high on the route (p. 11): https://goo.gl/photos/3ooZbpTG3An1Faah6 Should note that the moderate technical difficulty ratings belie the comprehensive difficulty of the route; this is not straightforward climbing, and careful route-finding and hold selection is mandatory. Some of our 60m 'moderate' leads took well over 1.5 hours! As mentioned above, the first three pitches go straight up to an easy ledge system that then yields the long dihedral. These first three pitches were quite solid and a lot of fun; a recommended crag with easy access . But the corner ... In an effort to give you a flavor for climbing the Pissburger Dihedral, here's a too-common scenario: launch from the belay, hope to protect it soon, find a crack behind a meager flake maybe 15-20' up. Maybe you put in an appropriate-looking nut, but a yank pulls right through as the flake expands. You slot in a crappy cam with a 1 in 50 chance of catching a leader fall, though if you whip it might slow you down, so you leave that mostly ornamental gear hanging there and hope for more soon. You wend, hem and haw to and fro and yonder, tapping and kicking holds to test. Up and right, back down; up and left, decide right is better; then up and right again. A number of deliberate, committing moves and 30-40 more perspiring feet above the ornament, you spy a small patch of vegetation in a faint corner. Out comes the compact ice tool. Scrape, scrape, scrape at this scratch card hoping to reveal a prize, only to find a shallow, flaring "crack"; try a nut, a sideways nut even - nope - maybe the tricam trick that 'worked' earlier will go here - nuh-uh. Poop your pants a little. Search the horizon for anything. Resolve to continue, ensuring you can reverse the moves. Higher still another ornamental piece gives you the false confidence to continue ... ok, so it's pretty much soloing. The 5.9 crux pitch (p. 12) above where we spent the night was stimulating in this manner too, and magnified thanks to the way it traverses above some large overlaps/roofs (and well above a tiny tri-cam). Overall, we can't really recommend the route. Had hoped the giant dihedral would hold a nice crack system. It had a crack, but for the most part it was comprised of very rotten and decomposing rock, or filled with copious humus. Not appealing; on one of my leads I ventured to the corner only to be rebuffed in horrific fashion by the rock peeling away at the slightest touch. So we were forced to find our way up the right-hand facet of the corner via sparsely-protected face climbing. Only near the top did some splitter briefly reveal itself. Squamish. The album for our trip, in not-so-great Google Photos (click on "i" to see captions): https://goo.gl/photos/SmEcZZ2r9BhFy3ZTA And the photo linked below courtesy of - who else - John Scurlock; shows an oblique view from the east, and our line rises to the first bench/notch to the right of the summit. https://goo.gl/photos/Z25Bs4QdRM7z2Tnq9 Thanks to little jackass, we onsighted the descent of the standard SW route, which felt long, exposed, and tedious, especially after a sleepless night and many hours of hyper-vigilance. My impish spouse tried (with some success) to implant this earworm as we departed in the evening: ... so every once in a while the cheeky, existential lyrics would humorously rebound in the Pissburger. A rewarding trip, with many fun/funny moments, and a fair bit of suffering; the whole package arouses that fight or flight instinct. Feel fortunate to have solved (and survived) this problem. Gear notes: We brought a large rack to 4", doubles to 2", large set of nuts, and definitely bring tri-cams through hand-size; used the small black tri-cam more this trip than I have in all previous combined. We had pins and used two to augment our shiver-bivy anchor. Did not bring a bolt kit but wished we had. Double ropes. Compact tool, but no crampons required.
  4. First Ascent of Epiphany (10 pitches, 5.8) and Revelation Peak, Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie. <<< WARNING: Despite the moderate grade, this is a serious route. Expect to find loose rock, challenging route finding, runout slab climbing, unfriendly shrubbery, and questionable protection. If those don't deter you read on and be sure to bring gloves for the approach and descent. Your hands will thank you. Also, when descending off the peak don't go too far North. Backtrack toward the top of the climbing and rap steep SE-facing slabs. I'd suggest thrashing down the forest just right (East) of the major gully that heads NE. You'll inevitable be doing some rappelling through shrubbery and forest, but it's not dangerous. We think you're more likely to encounter loose rock or possible dead ends in the gully. You'll eventually intersect a NNW-SSE gully that provides easy rock hopping back to the trail. Maybe you can find a better direct finish or a better route off the peak. Be safe. Have a grand adventure! >>> On Sunday, 8/28/2016, Kurt Hicks and I (Rad Roberts) climbed a new route (Epiphany) on what we believe is an unclimbed peak (now dubbed Revelation) West of the Pulpit. This is about 2 miles south of Garfield Peak, a few miles north of Mailbox Peak, and a mile north of the Pratt River. Our line was ground-up, on-sight, bolt-less, and all-free, involving 10 pitches of climbing up to 5.8 and several hundred feet of simul-climbing and roped scrambling over 1300 vertical feet. Grade III. Old growth forest, a pristine alpine cirque, a large cliff, and an unclimbed summit make for a great setting. Climbers comfortable with off-trail navigation, sub-alpine scrambling, and runout climbing up to 5.7 would enjoy this route. Most pitches are 5.fun with just a few crux moves. A few well-placed bolts would make this a more user-friendly outing and allow one to stick to the cleanest rock rather than wander around looking for gear placements. This peak was added to the Alpine Wilderness in 2014, so bolting would need to be done by hand. ......... When I was eight, my friends and I explored the forests of suburban New Jersey, climbed trees and rocks, caught critters in creeks, and generally roamed free until it started to get dark and we had to head home for dinner. The excitement of finding new climbing trees, fishing holes, or hidden corners of the forest was incredibly energizing. I've gotten bigger and older since those days, but my passion for wilderness exploration still burns bright. Technology has changed the game. Poking around the internet one night this summer, I found a cliff near the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River that basic research suggested was large, clean, granitic, and unclimbed. On a sultry summer evening, I headed out to get a closer look. My initial approach involved a heinous section of prickly devils club and a tangle of rotting trees. This is par for the course in sub-alpineering, and I was prepared with gloves and long pants. I made it over to a tongue of old growth trees, swam through some alder, and reached a giant talus field in a sublime cirque below an immense granite cliff. The rock was so hot you could have cooked eggs on it. I sat under a tree, soaking in the silence, and spotted the obvious place to start: a hand crack in a giant, clean dihedral. I could only see the first 60 meters or so, but satellite images suggested this would lead to a clean slab below a maze of towers and ramps that guarded the summit. It looked like a worthy adventure. On my way back down to the trail, I found a much better approach line, with only 100 feet of bush whacking. I marked the line on my GPS, left a few cairns, and hiked back to the trailhead in the dark. Before driving home, I dipped in the cool Middle Fork river. I was so excited about going back I couldn't sleep, my mind going over and over how we might climb this sleeping giant. The next day, I pitched the adventure to Kurt with a few choice images and the lure of a grand adventure on a big unclimbed wall. Like any good sand bagger, I downplayed the potential for scary runouts, dense and prickly vegetation, and hazards on the unknown descent. Kurt has enough experience to know when he's being hoodwinked, but he still agreed to join me. We've climbed and explored together in research for his I90 corridor guide, which will hopefully be out next year, but this would be our first new route together. Climbing with Kurt is like hitting the EASY button. He is an AMGA-certified guide with many years of experience guiding clients in the Cascades. He quickly dances up all kinds of mountain terrain, keeps ropes neat and tangle-free, and rigs rappels and anchors in seconds. Plus, he has great hair. We left the Middle Fork trailhead at a very civilized 6:15 AM just two days after my recon mission. 45 minutes later, we left the trail on a faint path, dived into the undergrowth at the appointed spot, and were ascending among old growth trees just a few minutes later. We managed to avoid the slide alder, crossed cleanly to the upper talus, and soon found ourselves at the base of the route. Easy. I started up the first pitch dihedral a little after 8 AM. The rock was polished and clean with a few moves of damp 5.8 hand jamming at the crux. I stopped around 30 meters because our larger gear, which I'd already placed, would be needed for the next section. Kurt fired off some nice clean 5.8 moves early in the second pitch and cruised up easier ground on clean rock with sparse protection, a theme that would repeat for much of the line. I climbed up to a slightly steeper section and cruised off right, lured by splitter hand cracks that promised some protection. It turned out these "cracks" were under, behind, or alongside blocks or flakes that seemed poised to pitch off the wall if a cam or climber's hand pulled hard on them. So I slung some shrubbery, went back onto the main slab, and continued to a crack with a few good cam placements. Kurt lead a lovely low angle slab for a pitch and I led another nice pitch with great rock, aiming for a small tree on the left of the giant granite bowl. This slab climbing was mostly 5.fun but required attention due to the sparse protection. Right near the end of the rope I found two of the best cracks of the day for the anchor. After two more slab pitches we were at the base of several steep rock ribs separated by deep, dark clefts. We followed clean rock for two more pitches up and right toward a treed ramp I'd spotted on satellite images. At the right end of the ramp, we swam through dense, short trees a hundred feet right to a break in the cliff. It looked possible to climb a steep step to the next tier. But when I climbed up to try, I found the one inch tree I planned to sling for protection had roots behind a block that moved immediately, and there were no cracks nearby. No good. I backed down and moved right toward another steep section of cliff. To get there, I had to step out onto a giant detached block on a sloping ledge with a crack behind it. I was careful not to dislodge the beast with my foot or place gear behind it. But the rock band above it was harder than it had appeared from below. It would involve a strenuous vertical lie-back on a rounded licheny edge with a one inch tree in pine needles for protection. There was no obvious protection above, and the moves would not easily be reversed if it turned out to be a dead end, so I backed off again, unwilling to risk a dangerous fall. So we moved another 50 feet right where the vegetation ended in a drop off below a wide vertical arete. There, we found a 30 foot feature with fun, airy 5.8ish moves with a nearby tree for protection and stemming. It was a nice rock rib in a great position. Kurt then scrambled right and climbed an exposed ramp to easier ground. We simul-climbed and scrambled about 200 vertical feet to the crest, moved right to bypass an imposing tower, and continued up toward the top. The final section was a narrow rock rib split by a lovely crack in a truly outstanding setting. And then we were on the summit. There were no cairns or other evidence of prior human passage. Any route other than ours to the summit would involve technical terrain and significant bushwhacking. These factors, combined with the absence of signs of prior human passage encountered on our ascent or descent, make us think this peak had not been previously climbed. For curious peak baggers, the topo shows the summit just under 3900 feet. The saddle with the Pulpit Peak to the East is at 3540, for a prominence of about 350 feet. We may never know whether we were the first or not, and perhaps it doesn't matter, but that perception enriched our experience. We soaked in the late afternoon light for a few minutes before rappelling down steep, clean granite on the Northeast side of the peak, aiming for a gully on the North side of the peak I had seen on my recon mission. Three double rope rappels and a single rope rappel put us down in the target gully. We followed it until it seemed prudent to move into the forested rib to the right. It turned out this was a bad idea. The brush was fairly dense, the woods were pretty steep, and we had to cross several stands of dense Devil's Club over our heads. At this point, I should mention that the gloves I'd loaned Kurt had large holes that exposed his bare fingertips. He ended up spending the next few days pulling tiny spines from his swollen digits. Sorry, Kurt. My gloves were quite new, but the spines still found unprotected flesh to prick. Sub-alpineering at its finest. Down, down, down we went. Eventually it got dark enough that we had to turn on our lights. We did three short raps off trees over drops too steep to safely downclimb. Finally, we arrived in the creek bed I'd ascended two nights earlier. This boulder-strewn drainage was easy to descend, and we soon made it to the trail and hiked back to the trailhead. The night was capped with a cold beer and a cool dip in the Middle Fork around 10 PM. In a world that seems to tug us in a dozen digital directions at once, it is a great luxury to find focus leading rock pitches and have long uninterrupted conversations on the trail. We felt grateful to have shared an amazing first ascent to a virgin summit less than an hour from Seattle. The climbing was quite moderate, the rock quality was good to excellent, and the position and summit were outstanding. Climbers aspiring to repeat this line should understand that there is a fair amount of loose rock to avoid in places, protection is sparse and sometimes tricky to place, and the descent is non-trivial. We have ideas for a better descent and may return to hand-drill a few bolts that would allow climbers to stay on the cleanest rock and mitigate runouts. Message me for suggestions and for help finding the painless approach line. Epiphany and Revelation are part of the 2014 expansion of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, so please tread lightly. Anyone who has climbed Infinite Bliss on Garfield, which is about a mile or so to the North, knows the rock changes from clean granite down low to shattered rock up high. That never happened on Epiphany/Revelation. The climbing may look rather scrappy in photos, and I won't suggest it's perfect, but we were continually surprised at how solid the rock was and how much fun the climbing was. I loved the days of my youth in the forests of central New Jersey, but my body, spirit, and aspirations outgrew those woods. I am very, very grateful to have a host of majestic wilderness adventures hiding in the mountains of our backyard. Revelation Peak from the MF road. Note the lower 3 pitches are obscured by foreground trees. Approach via Pratt River Trail. 2.2. miles. Ascend x-country to the start. Our descent back to the trail. It might be better to rappel back down the Southwest Face. MF forest on my Friday recon The lower cirque in the afternoon sun. MF SnoQ in the background. The cliff. When you enter the forest you're aiming for a giant fallen cedar log. Follow this to a second and then up into open forest. Passing a large cedar in open forest. This approach is about as friendly as sub-alpine x-country travel gets. Pitch 1 Pitch 1 Pitch 1 Pitch 2 Pitch 2 Looking back down pitch 3. Starting up pitch 4. Looking back on the start of pitch 5. Later in pitch 5. Looking back from the top of pitch 5. Better two lobes than none? Looking up pitch 6 Pitch 7 (8 for us as we went to the left to look at those deep clefts) Finish pitch 7 at a tree belay reminiscent of the one at the base of the Split Pillar on the Grand Wall at Squamish. Looking down the large slab from the middle of pitch 7. Pitches 7 and 8 from a vantage to the left of the line. The tree upper center is the belay. The traverse pitch 8. End of the traverse pitch 8. The top of pitch 9, the arete by the tree, with some wild towers in the background. Steep scrambling above pitch 10. Scrambling above pitch 10. We bypassed this tower by heading down and right on the NE side of it, traversing, and then ascending again. The final rock rib to the summit. So how do we get off this thing? The second double rappel. Third double rappel. It's not sub-alpineering unless you are rappelling through dense shrubbery in dark. Actually, we now believe this can be avoided.
  5. 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.
  6. Trip: Mile High Club - a new alpine rock route near Vesper, Sperry and Morningstar Peaks. 7 pitches, 5.10a. Date: 9/12/2015 Trip Report: Mile High Club is a new alpine rock route that Darin and I put up this year. We hope you will climb it and enjoy it. The purpose of this TR is to provide information on how to find and climb the route. First ascent stories can come later. We believe this route has all the ingredients of a modern classic: excellent climbing, solid rock, a striking feature and summit, grand alpine views, and a quick and easy approach and descent. The route ascends the southwest-facing buttress of a striking 5280 foot sub-summit of Morning Star Peak. The buttress is a very prominent feature on the east side of Headlee Basin, and it dominates the view from Headlee Pass. The rock, part of the Swauk formation, is metamorphosed sandstone, littered with positive holds, and devoid of continuous cracks. Mile High Club offers seven pitches of excellent face climbing and exposure on the crest of the buttress. Its low elevation and southwest exposure should give it a long season compared with other alpine rock routes. Although this route is fully bolted, climbers must be prepared to handle steep snow in spring, multiple rappels on the descent, and some loose rock on ledges. Care should be taken to avoid knocking rocks off the right side of the route as these will shoot down the approach gully. For this reason, climbers are advised to wear helmets for the short scramble in the approach gully and avoid lingering there. Hikers on the Sunrise Mine trail can hear and see climbers on the route. They could misinterpret shouts among climbers as calls for help and might even activate an un-necessary rescue. This is exactly what happened to the first ascensionists, who were greeted at the base of the route by a hovering helicopter with a spotlight and at the trailhead by a full search and rescue operation. Season: May through October. Approach: ~2 hours, 2100 feet elevation gain. Drive about 28 miles east on the Mountain Loop Highway, turn right on FR 4065 (1 mile past the Dickerman trailhead), and follow it about two miles to the Sunrise Mine trailhead. NW Forest Service pass required. Follow the Sunrise Mine trail approximately two and a half miles to the last major switchback (~4300 foot elevation) before the trail begins zig zagging up to Headlee Pass. Leave the trail and begin a surprisingly easy traverse northeast across talus toward the Mile High buttress. Pass just above a large flat-topped boulder near the first set of trees. Follow a natural passage through the small stand of trees to a second open talus field. Continue across open heather and talus, cross a strip of trees near a rocky bluff, and ascend to the obvious red gully right of the Mile High Buttress. A convenient seep just before the Mile High gully provides water through mid-season and for a few days after rain. Scramble up and left on rubble-strewn ledges to a lone fir tree. Pass the tree on a ledge to a single belay bolt at the beginning of the route. Route: Pitch 1: Hero climbing up and left on steep jugs leads to a beautiful face and arête. 115 feet, 5.10a. Pitch 2: Continue up the featured face to a belay on the crest. 70 feet, 5.9. Pitch 3: Cross a large ledge and ascend a 30 foot headwall with some cracks and good holds. Easier climbing leads to the base of the next headwall. Note that an intermediate anchor about 15 feet right of the climbing line and 10 feet above the lip of the lower headwall is used on the descent. 150 feet, 5.9. Pitch 4: Step right and climb a clean face to the base of a dihedral. 70 feet, 5.10a. Pitch 5: Climb the stunning dihedral and exit up and right to an airy belay. 80 feet, 5.10a. Pitch 6: Head up the lower arête, balance on top of a large flake, and climb a beautiful face to a spectacular arête. 115 feet, 5.10a. Pitch 7: Make a tricky move or two on a vertical face, cross ledges to the final headwall, and follow a clean ramp to the summit. 100 feet, 5.8 Summit: According to USGS maps, the peak is 5280 feet above sea level. This inspired the route’s name. There is a summit register with a secret. Please do not post photographs online or otherwise spill the beans. The idea is that only those who have visited the summit and become members of the Mile High Club will know its secret. Descent: Rappel the route using the pitch 3 intermediate anchor. Avoid a pendulum on the Pitch 7 rap by lowering down to the large flake before walking left to the belay. The starting ledge is several hundred feet above the ground and rather exposed. Climbers might want to traverse back to the starting bolt before unroping. It's possible to pull the rope on the final rappel from that position. Gear: One 70 meter rope, 12 quick draws, and a few shoulder length slings. First Ascent: Darin Berdinka and Rad Roberts, September, 2015. View from the point where you depart the Sunrise Mine Trail. The 5280 peak is on the left. View of the approach from the route. The trail is in the sun in the upper right. The MHC gully is in the lower left of the frame. Route overlay Another route overlay The start of Pitch 1 The top of Pitch 1 Pitch 2 Pitch 3 About to head onto moderate terrain on Pitch 3. Pitch 4 Start of Pitch 5 Nearing the top of Pitch 5 Approaching the arete on Pitch 6 Arete on Pitch 6 Arete on Pitch 6 Pitch 7 just below the Mile High summit On the summit at sunset with Sperry and Big Four in the background. A taste of the alpine ambience: Mile High Club is the right profile in this photo taken from the road. “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” - John Muir.
  7. Climb: WA Pass: South Early Winter Spire-F.A. Mojo Rising III 5.11 A1 Date of Climb: 10/14/2006 Trip Report: NORTH CASCADES: WASHINGTON PASS South Early Winter Spire (S.E.W.S) F.A. Northwest Face Direct “Mojo Rising” III 5.11 A1 Mark Allen, Joel Kauffman, Tom Smith Oct 13-14th 2006 Trip Report By Mark Allen I am reminded that the warm Indian summer is slipping. “Line is fixed!” My hands are nipped by the cold as I turn up the ibox. Not accustomed to classic wall style I impatiently wait at the belay but the Doors bootleg is helping me pass the time. The wall being technical it’s faster for both seconds to jug the line. We have been in this style for three pitches on a new line that the group had been cleaning from fixed lines days prier. I look down mouthing the words to Break on Through to Tom Smith as he jugs past the first three pitches covered on Friday Oct 13th. He gives me the thumbs up. Joel and I are re-racking getting him ready to cast off into the unknown pitches. Our excitement is highlighted by the strange tunes of Jim Morrison. Joel Kauffman Jugs fixed line on pitch 2 during the First Ascent of Mojo Rising. Photo By Mark Allen The Northwest Face of SEWS dominates the Western side of the Liberty Bell group in Liberty bowl. For years I have admired the aesthetics of this face. Its solid golden granite holds the afternoon light bringing out the contrasting black water streaks. The moonlight on this face is even more impressive. I never thought of climbing it until this year. During many trips to other spires I kept drawing lines on the face and then referencing the Red Fred. It seamed that several proud crack lines had been explored in the 70’s and 80’s. C. Northwest Face: FA Boving and Pollack 76’ FFA Boving & Kerns 77’ route III 5.11a begins low on the NW face and traverses to the West face into the famous Boving Roofs pitch finishing on the SW Rib. E. Northwest Face Var: Riders on the Storm FA Jim Yoder & Lee Cunningham August 15, 1989 A route that Becky recorded little about (but strangely knows exactly when it was climbed). From what I can piece together from studying the face, Becky’s description, and several topos of the Boving & Pollack 76’ route I can only see one available option. It appears that the party deviated from the Boving route during the third pitch into a vertical flake forming a flaring chimney or OW (This feature looks like a hand crack from the ground). At mid-pitch the crack doglegs left up an undercling ramp to a large ledge located directly plum under Dolphin Chimney. Then the most obvious thing to do was to get on the direct splitter 5.9ish corner hand crack to the Dolphin Chimney. I stood under this hand crack pitch several times and every time was disappointed it was not a part of our line. A. North Face: FA Doug Ingersoll & Andy Selters August 88’ III 5.10 A2 (5.12?) A steep face starting just below the chock stone raps takes a nearly straight line in cracks then traverses left on an arching crack. This leads directly to the false summit and avoids the SW ridge climb. Others seem to have attempted this line by the looks of the bail-tat that I always spy on the first pitch when coming of the N.E.W.S. After comparing the references to the rock it seemed the main breadth of the Northwest face appeared to remain undescribed and more importantly unclimbed, and for good reason. The most fantastic feature was a massive golden right facing dihedral that magically continues arcing across the top of the face intersecting high on the SW ridge just above the infamous Dolphin Chimney. Below the golden dihedral ramps and cracks incipiently completed a line except one area, the first pitch. This blank section guarded the upper pitches. During a climb of the NW corner of NEWS with Paul Butler earlier this summer I got a closer look at this crackless first pitch. Our imaginations were intrigued by the fun sporty face as our eyes moved from feature to jug to seam to finally crack. My hopes were now rekindled that this could and just might go. “Wow, that looks sweet!” I exclaimed then and the next three times I stood under the face this summer. But it would have to protect with bolts. The thought of bolting from the ground looked sketchy due to the nature of the face. I spoke with several route setters and first ascentionists that are historically prolific in the Methow valley to get their thoughts from a separate generation on the best approach. All thought that the classic nature of the pitch deserved to be properly (perfectly) bolted. So the approach was top-down for the first pitch. The rest of the climb would be discovered on the first attempt. Joel Kauffman on the first ascent of Mojo Rising Pitch 1 going at 5.11 sport. Photo by Mark Allen The second week of Oct I rap-reconed the face to confirm the lines continuity before one hole was drilled. It looked good. The belay stances rocked but not the gear. I established bolt anchors at three belays and we all cleaned/gardened the cracks that needed it the most, Pitch 3 and down (the steepest section). The first pitch required seven pre-placed bolts over 90ft and a short A0 bolt ladder to the belay. We pulled the lines and took a rest day. Mark Allen on pitch 2’s A1 seam. It is thought that this will one day go free. Photo by Tom Smith We left the car at 8:45am. Alpine starts were not an option during the fall cold temps and the dark morning of October 13th. The face does not get sun until afternoon. This made the first pitch a little sand bagged until the morning air warmed the rock. Pitch 1: Joel started climbing Pitch 1 at 10:30am. Joel just coming off his RMI guiding season was feeling floored by the sustained pitch but climbed excellent. We jugged the fixed line and congratulated Joel. Everyone raved about this classic pitch and can’t wait to get on it separately. Pitch 2: I left the anchor in full aid-mode and scrambled up the first ten feet plugged in my second cam and weighted it. It has been a while since my trip with Tom to the Valley but my aid skills were resurrected and then somehow peaked during this pitch. While top stepping fully extended off my fi fi I somehow slotted a stopper with the tip of my middle finger. The gear was good but small and sometimes tricky. We originally hoped that this pitch would go free. After the gardening recon it was not the 5.10 hand crack we had hoped but a steep aid seam. It appears to look freeable for some unearthly climber. With this futuristic vision in mind, I wanted to cater to a free ascent but thought it should go as clean as possible. We did not use pins. At mid-pitch the crack fades to a closed seam where a pin or gear could not be placed for two moves. I fixed a 3/4 inch bolt here for the aid and free ascent to come… Pitch 3: Tom Smith is off up a wide crack and moves over to a small ledge were he stares up at a short overhanging dihedral with a limited fingertip layback crack. His gear is just as cruxy as the climbing he reckoned at 5.11PG. Not able to trust his stances for placements he submitted to aid for three moves then pulled the roof of the dihedral on stellar finger locks at 5.10. He continued up for 30ft on ring locks and traversed left on a rail to the third stance. It was getting late in the afternoon, and we knew darkness fell at 6:30pm. At 4:15pm we fixed the lines to the ground. We knew we didn’t have enough time to explore and clean the last three pitches. Joel Kaufman on the “skywalker pitch” headed for he Golden Dihedral. Photo by Tom Smith On Oct 14th at 11:45pm Joel left the belay to the sound of the Doors on the ibox. Pitch 4: This is the traverse pitch to the Golden Dihedral. This is a fun exposed 5.7 ramp we called the “Sidewalk in the sky” shortened to the “Skywalker pitch”. Joel lowered 15ft from the anchor and pendulumed over to the ramp. Along the way he gardened for placements and established a belay. Tom and I separately rapped of the bolt anchor and pendulumed over. Mark Allen working Pitch 5 just below the 1 Ton belayer slayer. Photo by Tom Smith Pitch 5: I’m up. Originally I had planned to work the line up the laser corner crack formed by the dihedral. This did not directly connect with our summit cracks. On the other hand, just to the left was a much simpler 5.9 crack that did connect. The choice was simple. I got into an insecure layback with dirty flaring ring locks. This led to a dihedral with a cool stem box on edges while lay backing the wide crack. I climbed to the top of the dihedral and examined the status of a wedge shaped 1-ton block precariously perched in the corner. Touching on two points it seemed to levitate. There was no way not to climb on it. Planning my moves I committed to the hand jams with the same deliberate way I used to sneak back into my house in high school. Uneventfully I did not kill everybody. Good. I now entered the money section. A 100ft 5.8 finger crack dihedral. “This is the End my only Friend the End” Jim sang confidently with each brain-off finger lock. After 160ft, I clipped my old recon anchor. I brought Tom and Joel up hooting and hollering the whole way. Tom Smith enjoying 100ft of finger crack bliss on upper pitch 5. Photo by Joel Kaufman Pitch 6: The last new pitch took us to the simul-climbing ridge of the SW Rib. I was most familiar with the terrain so I cast off to seal the deal. We stashed one rope on Tom’s back and tied in like glacier climbers to the other. I pitched out the last 100ft on classic dirty alpine 5.6 and brought every one up to the ridge. Pitch 7: I re-racked with Tom. We were now staged for Simul. The three of us finished to the summit at 4:00pm. This was a fantastically fun line. Tom likes to refer to it as our Mini-big wall commenting on the classic wall style, the technicality, and the steepness. The rock is some of the best in the area. This was a worthy project that we are glad to have completed on the last day of Indian summer. Mark Allen on the summit after completing Mojo Rising. Photo by Tom Smith Storm front over Cutthroat Peak marking the end of Indian summer. The last clear day in our two-week streak. Photo by Tom Smith My approach to the Mojo Rising project was with the vision that in the future the route will go entirely free. So I made the effort to create a user-friendly line. I left cracks that were just protectable bolt free and bolted the faces to preserve an honest free ascent. The first three belays are bolted and rigged to rap with one 60M so it can be easily worked. I am guessing the 20M A1 pitch 2 will free at hard 5.12 or in the 13’s yet classic. ROUTE INFO Mojo Rising III 5.11 A1 Pitches: 7 (6 new) Pitch style: 1-4 climbed classic wall style. Pitches 5-7 the seconds freed Date/Time: 1-3 climbed on Oct 13th in 5 1/2 hrs. Pitches 4-7 Oct 14th in 4 hrs: 9 _ total (Due to party size and the fact that we are Gumby wallers, plus dirty cracks, and cold temps this is a recommended max time) Belays: Bolted at 1-3. Rigged for rap with one 60M. Trad anchors 4-7 (It is easy to bail during pitches 1-3. I suppose a party could bail into the NEWS gully from the 4th belay with one 60M rap or two 30M raps requiring a hanging stance and left gear) Gear Notes: Rack: Cams: 00”-4” Doubles sizes: 0.0, 0.4-3” TCUs helpful. Nuts: Single set with doubles in smaller sizes to 4 (Pitch 2) RPs a good range of smaller size 11 draws a few with slings 1X 60M Rope
  8. Trip: Humpback Mountain - Humpback Flows. Possible FA's on three ice routes - Champagne, 1p WI3, 65m. Don’t Forget the J-Thread, 2p WI3, 80m. Martinelli, 1p WI4, 25m. Trip Date: 02/07/2019 Trip Report: [TR] Humpback Flows, Possible First Ascents: Champagne, 1p WI3, 65m. Don’t Forget the J-Thread, 2p WI3, 80m. Martinelli, 1p WI4, 25m. Climbers - Raider Rob, Caleb Mallory, Alex Stolpovsky, Jessica Sagnella, Justin Pucci. View of Humpback Flows from I-90 Exit 47. Introduction: On my way back from ice climbing in Hyalite two weekends ago, my friends and I spotted what looked like ice up on the North Face of Humpback Mountain from westbound I-90 at Exit 47. I added this to my list of areas to check out and drove on… A few days later, my friend Chris Patrick posted a picture of the same thing on Facebook and several of us got into a conversation surrounding whether there was anything worthwhile up there. Thursday rolled around and the conditions appeared to be perfect, so my partner Jessica Sagnella and I decided we’d give it a try. Friends Raider Rob, Alex Stolpovsky, and Caleb Mallory were also planning a trip, so we decided to team up and lay siege to Humpback Mountain in the hope that we’d find something worthwhile to climb. We got to the Asahel Curtis parking lot off of Exit 47 at 7AM, geared up, and began the approach. There are no trails up this side of Humpback so it was a fun and interesting trailblazing and bushwhacking exercise to get to the ice. Climbing Area Descriptions: To get to The Steps or Hidden For Your Pleasure, ascend the avalanche path directly. This approach is approximately 600-800 vertical feet of steep no-fall zone snow up to 60 degrees, so please assess conditions as you go and use your best judgement. About midway up the avy path, you’ll see The Steps on the left and now the full lower tier of Hidden on the right. At this point, it becomes clear that The Steps is considerably steeper than the approach photo represents. It consists of a 15-meter wide gully with two nearly-vertical 5 to 8-meter ice steps separated by a snowfield. The top out appears to be protectable via anchoring to a large tree directly up the center of the gully. To get to The Sheet, traverse right from the tops of the bushes with very little additional elevation gain, but be weary of the final portion of the traverse to the base of the ice, as it is a no-fall zone on steep snow. The Steps Area from half way up the avy path. The Sheet Area from the lower boulder field with Champagne highlighted on the left. The Hidden For Your Pleasure Area showing the lower and upper tiers and the two lines we put up. The Sheet Area Champagne – WI3, 65m, possible FA by Alex Stopolvsky, Caleb Mallory, and Raider Rob. Avalanche danger: Serious. Approach: Traverse right from the tops of the bushes with very little additional elevation gain, but be weary of the final portion of the traverse to the base of the ice, as it is a no-fall zone on steep snow. Route: Climb the major flow on the right along the left side of the slab. There is a possible variation starting left up the first step and then traversing to the far right to what looked like fat ice. For a top belay anchor, sling the horn on a large slab just left of the route at the end of the pitch. Another 20 meters above the anchor is a protected cave with plenty of level ground. Descent: Rappel from the anchor or from here, you can get to the right side of the lower tier of Hidden For Your Pleasure by traversing 60-degree snow through the trees climbers left of the cave. Looking up Champagne from the base. Caleb following Alex on Champagne. The belay horn at the top of Champagne. The entrance to the flat and comfy cave another 20m above the top of Champagne. The Hidden For Your Pleasure Area Don’t Forget the J-Thread! – 2p WI3, 80m, possible FA by Justin Pucci and Jessica Sagnella. Avalanche danger: Serious. Look for signs of wind slabs as you ascend the lower section of the approach and loose dry surface snow in the upper section. Approach: Climb 50 to 60-degree snow up the avalanche path to the belay station tucked away in a shallow cave under the large rock outcropping on the left. Route: P1 - WI2+/3-, 40m: Start up climbers right from outside of the belay cave on a short step of near-vertical ice. Continue up the ice steps from here and look for spots to place stubbies (at best) as you progress. There are a couple of variations here depending on ice conditions and how you’re feeling. The left side of this line is thin and stepped with a couple of mixed moves off of a large flake (WI2+/3-) and the right side has interesting and fun blobs (WI3-/3). Be careful of knocking down the large, dinner table-sized ice sheets that look more like “snow patches” from below. Reach an obvious and wide shelf where you can build a screw anchor on the ice blobs and prep for the next pitch. P2 - WI3, 40m: Start up the blobs that make up the top of the belay shelf onto a small, but steep snowfield. You’re aiming for the curtains directly above you. Again, there are a couple of variations – the main line has a small slab of ice leading to a steep gully on the left or a steeper step with a large bulge at the top on the right. Both variations lead to a final 5-6m curtain of beautiful and featureless ice. The top-out can be tricky in the snow above the curtain. Anchor off of the trees or on the ice bulge above. Descent: Rappel both pitches via threads. We used naked threads on both raps. Looking out from the belay cave at the start of Don't Forget the J-Thread. Justin getting started with the first screw above the first step on p1. Justin reaching the belay ledge at the top of p1 on Don't Forget the J-Thread. The characteristic blobs toward the top of p1. Jessica getting ready to follow on p1. Looking up p2 of Don't Forget the J-Thread. Left variation on p2. Right variation on p2. A naked thread in beautiful and clear ice at the top p2. Martinelli – WI4, 25m, possible FA by Alex Stopolvsky and Caleb Mallory. Avalanche danger: Serious. Look for signs of wind slabs as you ascend the lower section of the approach and loose dry surface snow in the upper section. Approach: Climb 50 to 60-degree snow up the avalanche path to the belay station tucked away in a shallow cave under the large rock outcropping on the right or traverse climbers left through the trees from a top-out on The Sheet area. Route: This is the obvious line to the right of Don’t Forget the J-Thread and runs right up the middle of the wall. Climb a brief section of steep snow to the base of the wide ice sheet. Climb the sheet toward the small pine tree above. The top-out can be tricky in loose snow. Sling the small pine tree at the base for an anchor. Descent: Rappel off of the small pine tree (we left a sling on it). Caleb following Alex on Martinelli. Summary: The stoke was high on this trip and I have to say that it ranks as one of the best days I've had in the alpine in a while. Not only did we have an awesome adventure with friends, but it resulted in finding some amazing ice climbing that is so close to home! Between the three areas I have discussed in this report, we believe there is potential for another 15-20 lines to be put up depending on creativity and the conditions. The Sheet has lots of fat ice with plenty of interesting features to play around on. The Steps appears to have at least two or three obvious lines to the anchor trees at the top of the gully. The lower tier of Hidden offers from mild WI2 to thin and delicate WI4 with some mixed climbing potential too. Finally, the upper tier of Hidden is a real gem...some of the most beautiful and clear blue ice I've seen anywhere. It can be combined with some of the lower pitches as we did on J-Thread or you can climb to it, set up home base and choose which of the gullies, curtains, and pillars you want to send. Who's ready to get some?! Gear Notes: We brought 70-meter ropes, screws from 10-21cm, a set of tricams, and a few 24” pickets. While we didn’t use the pickets, I could see them being handy for the steep upper sections of the approach or on a couple of the steep snowfields depending on the snow conditions and how comfy you are in that kind of terrain. There were a couple of spots for tricams that I found, but didn’t end up using them. Aside from when we had the luxury of thick anchor ice, 10’s and 13’s were the screws of choice. An avy kit is absolutely mandatory in this area. Approach Notes: From the Asahel Curtis parking lot, follow the forest road past the gate and up to the hairpin turn. Go west beyond the turn up a rougher bit of road for another few hundred feet until you see a big tree stump (4-5 feet in diameter) on the hillside and enter the forest. Now just go up! After 400 vertical feet of steep moss, devils club, and other fun bushwhacking, you’ll hit the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail. Use this as a good stop for layer checks and snacks and then continue up through another 600-700 feet of the same stuff until you hit a boulder field. Stay west of the obvious and large gully on climbers left and you’ll break out of the trees and into the lower basin where you’ll start to get a view of the ice. The next 200-300 vertical feet is on snow covered boulders and begins to steepen as you hit the big patch of bushes above the trees. From the top of the bushes, the terrain steepens substantially. You’re now standing at the base of a large avalanche runout from above and need to carefully assess conditions from this point forward. Looking around you from left to right, you’ll see a large rock wall followed by The Steps – a steep, two-step ice gully, then a small bit of ice way up high that is the second tier of Hidden For Your Pleasure, and finally, on the far right is The Sheet, a wide slab of ice topped by a steep snowfield. In total, the approach from the parking lot covers about 2200 vertical feet over one mile of ground distance. We hit this in perfect bluebird conditions…clear skies, temperatures in the teens, a slight breeze, and with very little snow on the ground down low. Once we got into the upper sections of the approach near the ice, the snow ranged from kick-steppable styrofoam to an icy crust perfect for fast mid-dagger climbing with patches of softer and deeper powder that allowed for kicking out a bit of a rest stop.
  9. Trip: Bryant Peak, Melakwa Flows - Possible FAs: Ice routes on West Face Bryant Peak (WI4, 60-70 degree snow) and Melakwa Flows (WI4-) Trip Date: 01/27/2019 Trip Report: On the warmest weekend of a warm winter here in Washington, Jacob Krantz and I set out to explore some undocumented ice lines near Snoqualmie Pass I had spotted earlier in the winter. We did some research on the internet, Beckey Guide, and WA Ice guidebook but found nothing about these climbs, so these are possible FAs or FRAs at least. We climbed an awesome 4 pitch route on the West Face of Bryant Peak to the summit and a fun 2 pitch route in an area I've been calling the Melakwa Flows. The Melakwa Flows are an incredible group of ice flows of varying grades near Melakwa Lake. It's mind boggling to think we could not find anything about climbs in the Melakwa Flows, considering they are probably one of the densest concentration of reasonably accessible ice climbs in WA, especially impressive considering the warm temps lately. Hot Tubbs (WI4, 60-70 degree snow) West Face Bryant Peak Although only 4-5 pitches, we thought this route was awesome, offering a substantial amount of moderate ice, steep snow, and wild exposed summit pitch. It packed a lot of punch for such a short and accessible route. We also managed to stay in the shade the whole time, starting around 10 am. We'd love to see others get after it and some other possible ice lines on the west face! P1: Climb thin low angle ice to the vertical WI4 curtain. Send the curtain then continue up easier terrain to set a belay in fat ice. P2: Climb up progressively steepening fat ice to a WI3+ bulge. Above, continue up another 20-30m on 45 degree snow to a group of trees for the belay. P3: This is a long pitch (~80 m). Simul climb up snow, trending left as the cliffs force you. Establish a belay on a snag at the notch on the spine of the North Ridge. Watch cornices here. P4: Traverse right across wildly steep and exposed snow (60-70 degrees) on the north face, using trees for protection. At the third and tallest tree, make a few thin ice or mixed moves up a slab and continue straight up another 10-20m to the summit ridge. Descent: hike down the west ridge a few hundred feet until it flattens a little, then make a single 60 m rappel off a big tree down to the bottom of the west face. Approaching the first pitch. Top of the flow is part of the second pitch. Jacob crushes the WI4 crux. Looking up at the second pitch. Navigating between the two pillars at the top felt like WI3+ to me on lead. The ice here was FAT! Simulclimbing bomber snow on the third pitch. Steep exposed snow traverse to start pitch 4 out onto the north face. It was super unconsolidated and unsupportive. Would have been terrifying if it wasn't for all the trees! Jacob finishes the last bit of steep snow to the summit ridge. Walking along the wonderful summit ridge of Bryant, Kaleetan and Chair in the background. The Line of Fire (WI4-) Melakwa Flows These routes are on a cliff band just north west of Upper Melakwa Lake, easily visible from the upper lake. They look like they have considerable avalanche danger above, so beware. Even though we approached in the dark from our camp Sunday morning at Melakwa, we still only got in one two pitch route before this face got blasted by the sun and snow started coming down. The ice was often pretty soft to take screws, but I imagine if you hit this area in a cold snap or even just normal temps it would be incredible! It is a total ice playground, with easily a dozen routes 150-300 ft long ranging from a rambly WI3 to free standing WI5 pillars! There were incredibly fat sections of ice by WA standards. We hope this inspires others to go explore this gold mine of WA ice climbs! P1: find your way through mixed terrain or thin ice up to the base of the FATT pillar. The pillar is vertical or near vertical for 15 feet and super bomber, WI4-. Make a belay in some thick ice across the snow ramp above. You could skip this first pitch by ascending the snow ramp to the right. P2: A long pitch (~150ft) of rambling WI2-3 terrain, with at least half a dozen WI3 steps one to two body lengths in height. It's choose-your-own-adventure here. Total type 1 fun. Except for at this point, I was on lead getting pummeled by huge clumps of snow. It was still awesome. We ended at a big tree anchor. Descent: Single 60 m rappel down to the steep snowfield ramp, down climb as quickly as possible to get out of the line of fire. Climbing steep snow to the base. We took the pillar in center right of the photo. Jacob led up this thin section to gain a ramp leading to the pillar. We don't recommend this start. There were other options to the left. Approaching the beautiful pillar. So big and wide. An abundance of options on the second pitch. There's even more rambly ice to the left out of this photo. Me leading some awesome WI3 fun. This was right before I started getting pummeled I believe. Looking down from the top of P2. It looks like mostly snow, but you cannot see all the little ice steps from above. It was very high quality. Approximate location of the flows. As temps cool down next week, I think these climbs will just get better and better. If there's awesome WA ice on a blistering hot weekend like this, it ain't so bad! So get out there and send, WA ice climbers! Want more beta and photos? Check out my full trip report at https://climberkyle.com/2019/01/27/new-snoqualmie-pass-ice-climbs/. Gear Notes: We used 9 screws of varying lengths (much of the ice is quite thick actually, but still bring the stubbies), 1 picket, 8 slings, a few nuts. Double 60 m ropes are nice for the rappels, but there are walk off options also. Prepare to make you own rap anchor if you don't fine ours. We brought cams and pitons also but never really used them. Approach Notes: Either approach up the Denny Creek Trail to Melakwa Lake or over Bryant col (north saddle of Bryant) via Great Scott Basin from Alpental like we did. It took us 3 hours with overnight packs from Alpental to the West Face of Bryant, and about 3 hours from the Melakwa Flows back to Alpental with similarly heavy packs. Note there is considerable avalanche danger on these approaches, so proper gear and training is recommended.
  10. Climb: TR- Johannesburg Mt. -CK route F.A. Grade V, 5.10b, AI 3+ Date of Climb: 8/27/2005 Trip Report: I figured I'd take my first stab at a trip report with this format: Several summers ago Loren Campbell and I attempted a direct line on the North Face of Johannesburg but had to retreat due to steep blank sections of rock. After some planning, we went back for round two with the same line. Johannesburg has always been a favorite mountain of mine to climb because on each trip J-burg seems to pull out something new from up its sleeve. In addition, the approach is perfect for someone as lazy as myself. The trend in the last couple of years has been to traverse lots of peaks or run routes together to get one big "climb". For those looking for a good adventure, Johannesburg delivers plus I was told that the North aspect has the greatest vertical rise in one horizontal mile anywhere in the U.S. outside of Alaska? --- Last Saturday I picked Loren up at 1:00am in Issaquah, and after packing gear we left the cascade pass parking lot at approx. 4:30a.m. We traversed below the fan and the beautiful steep red wall that I always thought would make a great sport wall and passed several more sections of rock until we got to our start. We climbed through various pitches up to 5.8 until we were cliffed out by an World Wall 1-"esque" overhanging wall that ran all the way right to a waterfall. (The 1985 Kloke route takes slabby ramps to the right of the falls and goes up and onto the other side of a huge prow). After tryiing three different options we were ready to throw in the towell. I felt stupid because I'd promised Loren we'd make it through this section even if meant aiding through with pins, hooks, mashies, or whatever other monkey business was required- At the lot, I just packed a free rack. I decided to give on last overhanging chimney that was just left of a 15 foot horitzontal ceiling a try. I started up a face and then cut into the mossy chimney. Luckily it was late August and the moss was dry. Any earlier in the summer it would have been wet and unclimbable. I pulled through and let out a whoop of joy. The packs hauled easily out in space for the pitch. The belay would allow a base jumper a clean jump all the way to the talus. It wasn't like penguins in bondage at squamish or anything but the pitch was solid "index" 5.10. We scrambled up the slabs with the huge snout of the glacier looming above us. We were going to climb the left of the two beautiful hanging glaciers. The 1985 route was on the other side of a huge butress and pulls on to the right of the two hanging glaciers. We scrambled up 1,000 feet of low to mid fifth class rock.until we came to a prow of rock to the right of the start of the left hanging glacier. Just then, a huge section the size of 3 houses of the glacier calved off and scoured excatly over the rock we'd just climbed. Then as we were uncoling the rope, another mini willis wall size section cut loose. We were scared shitless. Had we stopped for 5 extra minutes lower on the route we'd have been toast. The snout of the glacier was overhung and onion peeling away. We agreed we'd have to get up a little ways on the rock and then climb onto the glacier. The snout of the thing looks small from the road, but when you are by it it makes the ice cliff glacier on Stuart look like snqoqualmie's bunny hill. We climbed about 200 feet of 5.7 rock untill we were able to downclimb onto the glacier. As soon as I saw the upper glacier, I was afraid that we were stuck and would have to traverse onto the slabby wooded ridge route that is in the Nelson Volume 2 guide. We figuered we'd give the glacier a go. Loren masterfull led off and we were using two tools right from the get go. We spent hours climbing in and out of crevasses trying to pick a line through. It was the most monkey business I'd ever done on a glacier in my whole life. Near the top, our hearts sank as we found oursleves dead ended. One crevasse that overhung a whole pitch blocked our path. We found a moat wall to the right that we were able to climb. Loren masterfully led a beautiful vertical AI3+ pitch to pull us through. We were thankfull for spending the last five winters doing a lot of waterfalls. We reached the top and traversed onto ramp where an ice wall brought us to the end of the snow arete of the before mentioned select climbs route. We trudged on to the summit. The glacier was like climbing up the ice cliff glacier on Mt. Stuart in mid summer two or three times. I was beat. We topped out and decided to descend beacuse the weather forcast for Sunday was poor. We descended and reached the CJ col at 2:30am and bivied. We'd been climbing for 22 hours except for the 1 hour of hiking across the talus. Next morning we hiked out Doug's Direct. The route was by far more committing than any of the numerous grade V's I've done in the Cascades. Pictures to come. Go do it! I'll give you a topo. Gear Notes: full rock rack, rock shoes, 2 ice tools each, ice screws packs were hand hauled on vertical and overhanging pitches. Approach Notes: easy 1 hour approach
  11. On Sept. 14, Chris Mutzel and I climbed a ~1,000' new route on the NNE-facing arete of Fallen Angel: Act like you're having fun III 5.10+. (John Roper, who climbed the peak from the S side decades ago, has an area-appropriate name for this striking feature: the "Grim Reaper Arete".) After a 100' or so of soloing, we climbed a total of 8 roped pitches to the summit. The pitches went 5.6, 4th, mid-5th, 5.8+, 5.10+, 5.10, mid-5th, and 5.9 (although there might be a mid-5th alternative for the last traversing pitch). Big-picture photos from John Scurlock and John Roper, respectively, below. In Scurlock's, the line drops towards the viewer (along the clean arete), and then winds a bit through the ledges to the left; in Roper's, the line initially drops down the right skyline, and ultimately foots to the left of the tree in the foreground. Approach notes: I took a gamble and lost on this one. Looking at satellite imagery, I had hoped we'd be able to approach from the north by tying into some suspected old-ish growth timber (there was some) on the climb up from the W fork of Newhalem Cr to the basin below our objective. If it worked, it would cut off a lot of distance and 1000s of v.f. vs the S-side approach from the Monogram Lk / Lookout Mtn trailhead. While we did quite well from the car at Newhalem Cr to the final climb from its W fork to the basin, above that we encountered just about every terrain obstacle the subalpine Cascades have to offer--somewhere high up on the BW scale, perhaps even establishing "New Wave" Bushwhack Ratings. A physical, but not mental, respite was offered by a sustained stretch of moss-coated 4th class frog-chimney that got us through the lower cliff bands: (I'm advancing my "little buddy" walking/bashing stick ahead of me.) Bottom line: approach from the south and enjoy a longer but scenic alpine tramp, unless you want to embrace the aforementioned travel and route-finding challenges. (I’ll buy good six-packs for anyone that repeats our approach and reports back with an optimal way up to that basin.) The climb itself was great. The rock, even the junky-looking first pitch, was quite solid and clean, requiring only sporadic, expected alpine gardening. The harder technical climbing, all ~3 pitches of it, was high quality, fun climbing on bright gneiss. Some was downright Index-like. We swapped leads, with Chris drawing the crux 5.10+ pitch 5--spectacular--which traveled near and then on the edge of the arete. On this pitch he expertly avoided a belayer-slayer that I inadvertently trundled while following, which marred our otherwise pure ascent as I weighted the rope to avoid a crushed foot. A reminder that you can't afford to lose focus for a second out here. Chris climbing the crux: Me following the crux: My 5.10 pitch 6 was more like a 15' boulder problem followed by scrambling on the arete's crest. Then we had two more pitches of rambling peppered with boulder moves over a sub-summit and the summit. We didn't find a reported register, but probably just overlooked it. Summit views from this western outpost of the N-Central Cascades were unique. Descent: from just W of the summit, we used a single 70m rope to make 4 rappels (all slung horns) down the South face; first directly down a rib, then angling skier's left to alight on an exposed ramp that you can down-climb E, which is where you need to go anyway to gain a notch that gets you back to the basin. (Unless you approach from / camp on the S of the peak, which I recommended above.) We were back at the bivy by 4pm, drinking big cans of beer. Given the complexity of the return route to the car, we decided to spend another night at comfortable bivy rather than risking the descent in fading light or night. Despite the extra workload imposed by my approach mistake, we had a blast (particularly on the rock) and recommend this route. Origin of the route name: C is relentlessly ebullient, so high on the climb it felt appropriate to yell the eventual route name before snapping a photo--this provided both a good belly laugh, and a mantra for the long 'shwhack back to the car. There are a few more photos in the gallery. And over here are even more photos, and a phone video Chris took of me trundling and muttering "explosion". Gear notes: Medium rack; tri-cams were money, brought pins but didn't use them. Compact ice tool useful for the occasional gardening. We didn't bring crampons, but you would want them earlier in the season, or when sensibly approaching from the south.
  12. Trip: Three O Clock Rock - Road to Nowhere, Mystery Tour Trip Date: 07/20/2018 Trip Report: Hey, a quick update about some new options up at 3 O’Clock Rock...for those that care. Year after year, it seems that over 95% of Washington climbers find zero appeal in hiking to easy slab climbs. But that just keeps the quiet experience for the dedicated regulars and newcomers. Andy and I added an easy (~5.3) slab climb a bit right of Silent Running that features two short pitches. Road to Nowhere has proven a fun outing for novice slab climbers. If you want more challenge, try it hands free (though the FHFA has already been done). You will need 5 draws and one 70 m rope to get up and down. If you’re up for a more difficult experience and/or other parties are lined up for Silent Running, continue another 4 pitches up Mystery Tour, which wanders to the right-hand edge of the North Buttress (topo below). The second pitch of Mystery Tour (5.9+) is the standout, featuring 58 m of very sustained slab climbing. From there, continue up the rounded buttress at 5.8 and then a shorter pitch that ties into Silent Running. More beta and gear details are below. Currently, the easiest descent is down Silent Running, though we hope to have a separate rappel route tuned up in the near future. Leah on Road to Nowhere, pitch 1 Matt approaching the rounded buttress on pitch 3 of Mystery Tour. Climbers below and left are one pitch up Road to Nowhere Route topo Gear Notes: For Mystery Tour, you'll want double 60s, a single set of cams to 2" and ~14 draws. About 80% of pro is bolts. Approach Notes: FS road #2060 to Eight-mile trailhead, then 45 minutes of easy uphill (standard 3 O Clock Rock approach)
  13. Trip: Sloan SW Face - Fire on the Mountain (FA/FFA) Date: 8/30/2009 Trip Report: Short version: Fire on the Mountain: FA/FFA on the SW face of Sloan. 8 pitches, 5.10+, III+ (1100ft of technical climbing on steep, clean rock plus 500ft of scrambling to the summit). Blake Herrington and Rad Roberts. Long version (photos and video by Blake Herrington): Descending Sloan after a moderate jaunt up its West Face, AlexK and I gaped in awe at the sheer Southwest face of the mountain. Alex later commented, “Walking along the base of the SW face was like walking along the base of the Upper Town Wall at Index...line after line of really awesome steep granite rising directly from the steep slope vertically for many pitches!” Alex looking up at the SW Face of Sloan, 2006 (new route starts just off the frame to the right.) With a bit of hype and a few Scurlock photos, I was able to convince Blake to take a shot at this worthy objective. Morning mists enveloped us as we coaxed my old car up FS4690 to the Bedal Creek trailhead. We walked through old growth forest and followed the cascading creek to the base of the immense West face of Sloan. Although this impressive face surely holds more good lines, we continued on to the SW face. The mists burned off as we left the forest for heathery meadows and ripe blueberries, wasting precious minutes on the jaws of a giant. Upon cresting the final ridge, I was pleased to see that the SW face looked just as steep and clean as I’d remembered. Several lines looked good, though they would need some gardening on the first pitch. We chose a prominent left facing corner leading to a chimney (upper right in the photo below) and some thin cracks up a face. Blake getting dressed for work. We should all be so lucky I asked for and was granted the opportunity to lead the first pitch. I did a little gardening at the start, but the rock was quite solid and protectable. My calves started to burn as holds ran out and the corner turned into a chimney, but an exit onto a small stance provided a rest and revealed a series of spectacular, clean finger cracks soaring straight up the wall. Working up these, I felt the fire spread to my forearms. I rested when possible and carefully contemplated each tricky section, hoping to honor this fine line in good style. Blake was very patient. Fortunately, the rock and gear were solid so it was easy to go for it. I cranked through the crux and savored juggy moves over a final bulge to a belay atop a pillar, whooping with delight on completing the onsight. Blake joined me, casually shooting video just after the crux. [video:vimeo]6387846 This would prove to be the hardest pitch of the day, perhaps 5.10+ or 5.9++ or 5.11-. Ratings reflect only one aspect of the experience, and often they distract from the essence of a climb. For me, this pitch alone was worth the price of admission, with 45m of sustained, outstanding, well-protected (I placed about 13 pieces!) climbing on solid rock, with multiple 5.10 sections and a really fun crux. Blake then headed up the next pitch, linking clean vertical and horizontal cracks and a few face moves to a belay at a ledge. [video:vimeo]6387982 This section was reminiscent of the upper pitches of Loving Arms on the Upper Town Wall at Index and various routes on Lover’s Leap. I let Blake take the third pitch as the second pitch was rather short and I’d poached the best pitch from him on Tower a year ago. P3 started in a finger crack and then headed up a series of golden flakes, dikes, and buckets. I did a hand traverse left under a large roof to move the belay and then shot up a steep right-facing corner, brushing lichen off key footholds along the way. The angle eased a bit and I cruised up to the giant heather ledge that splits the face. Lots more steep, clean, featured rock loomed above us, and we were shocked to see it was already 4pm. Go time. Blake floated up a left-leaning crack system and a perfectly clean OW corner to a belay on a pillar. There we found two old pins. Someone had come this way before (see comments below). I danced up a steep face peppered with protruding dikes, managing to sling a giant knob and slot a cam in a small crack. The end of this pitch featured a steep finger crack in a corner with an old pin. I clipped this piece of history, but images of it failing motivated me to crank through without weighting it. Entering the crux of p6 (note slung knob in foreground) Sunshine, silence, and sweeping views of the Mountain Loop and Monte Cristo peaks enveloped us. We savored the pristine wilderness setting. Blake then lead a 60m rope-stretcher to a stance just below another large ledge. Dehydrated and fried from hours of exertion in the sun, I offered Blake what we hoped would be the final lead of the day. It didn’t disappoint, with a hand crack around a roof bulge and a rising traverse on positive flakes to a final corner. We unroped. It was 7pm. Our water was long gone, and my moxie had long since moseyed. Although I had descended Sloan before, I didn’t relish the idea of rappelling and down climbing in the dark with one headlamp between us. But Blake had never been to the summit, and we needed to complete the route, so we stashed our gear and scrambled to the airy summit. We signed the register, snapped a pic, and turned to head for the stable. Note moon in background. I staggered heavily (Blake scampered lightly) back down to our packs and we admired a stunning sunset as we started the rest of the descent. We rapped to the sloping ledge as twilight turned to night, but the moon cast its gentle glow on the descent slabs and the air was perfectly still, as if Sloan were gently ushering us back down to safety. Our ropes just barely reached the snow, but it was quite hard and our tennis shoes, one ax, and lack of crampons didn’t inspire confidence. Blake chopped a bollard and we rapped down to lower angle snow. The sound of running water drew us to a small waterfall of snowmelt where we drank deeply and split a Theo chocolate bar, smiling in the moonlight. We retrieved our packs, including my headlamp, and headed toward the trailhead. But there was still one more obstacle: BLUEBERRIES! Evening dew had started to collect on the blueberry bushes at the top of the open slopes of the Bedal creek basin, and our feet skidded out each time we tried to take a step. Glissading seemed possible, but test runs showed the acceleration rates would be more like hard ice than soft snow. The ground was very hard and there was no way to hang onto the wet plants. Self arrest would be impossible. Death would be swift and sure. I could see the headline already, “Climbers die on blueberry slope.” I pictured the deadly rabbit in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. We’d climbed a striking new route but been bested by some damp blueberry bushes. Actually, I’m OK with that. We decided to stick to the dense, prickly evergreen shrubbery on an adjacent ridge. We thrashed down that and rapped off a 4ft pine when we got cliffed-out above more evil blueberries. The remainder of the descent went smoothly. The Darrington payphone ate my quarters while trucks of teenagers cruised the minimart in the wee hours. We drove to Arlington through misty fields, wolfed down tasty food at Haggen, and headed back to Seattle, arriving after 3am. My body attended morning work meetings, but my spirit was still in the mountains. When the rains settle upon us and sun-kissed alpine rock is removed to daydreams, this is the trip I will replay again and again. Thanks for a great outing Blake, and for giving me the first pitch, the last swallow of water, the only ice ax on the hard snow, and good conversation to pass the hours on the trail. ……………… Fire on the Mountain, 5.10+, III+, 8 pitches, 1100ft of technical climbing and another 500ft or so of scrambling to the summit. All free, ground-up, onsight. The route starts in a prominent left-facing corner that turns into a chimney. This is about a hundred feet right of a prominent right-facing corner, and 200ft right of a vegetated crack leading up the diamond feature in the photo with Alex. Pitch 1: Tinderbox. Start in the obvious left-facing corner below a chimney. Stay right to avoid vegetated cracks at the top of the chimney, and step right to a small stance. Climb straight up finger and hand cracks to a belay at a decent ledge. 45m, 5.10+. Pitch 2: Lightning strike. Move right to a pair of hand cracks in a corner, ascend the right one and hand traverse right to a small stance. Link face features and small cracks to a good ledge and a belay. 33m, 5.10-. Pitch 3: Bucket brigade. Start up a thin crack and then move onto a face with golden buckets, flakes, and edges. Ascend a prominent corner under an OW roof crack and then hand traverse left under a giant roof to a belay stance out left. Future parties may choose to link p2 and p3. 34m 5.10-. Pitch 4: Controlled burn. Delicate moves up a right facing corner lead to friendly flakes and dikes and a giant heather ledge that bisects the SW face. 40m, 5.8. Pitch 5: Firebreak. Ascend a left-trending crack system near the top of p4. This leads to a clean ramp and a stellar golden dihedral with an OW crack (one #4 useful here). Finish on a pedestal near old pins and some cracks. 45m, 5.9. Pitch 6: Alpine ladder. Scale a steep face on amazing dikes, follow the ladder leftward up hero climbing, and finish up a steep corner with a pin. 40m, 5.10. Pitch 7: Smoldering embers. Shoot straight up the featured face to a giant heather ledge. 63m, 5.7. Pitch 8: Final flare-up. Ascend a hand crack that jogs left around a small roof. Continue up cracks, trend left on positive flakes, and finish up a corner to a ledge. 45m, 5.10. Scamper up to the obvious corkscrew route trail. Change into comfortable shoes, stash gear, and scramble unroped to the summit. Beckey lists a route on the SW face, but what he calls the SW face is more like a route that starts on the South face, crosses a ridge mid-height onto the SW face, and follows easy ground to a shoulder. This is very different from what we experienced. Based on the position of the few pitons we encountered, we believe someone climbed p5, p6, and p7 at some point, aiding through the steep finger crack crux on p6. We’d be interested to hear if anyone knows more about the nature of that route. The condition of p1, p2, p3, p4, and p8 suggests they had not been climbed prior to our ascent. I've attempted to draw our line on a classic Scurlock shot. Red is roped climbing on p1 to p8 and green is unroped scrambling to the summit. Gear Notes: Stoppers work particularly well, including a few micronuts. We brought double cams to #3 camalot and one #4 camalot and used it all. We took a few pins but never needed them. The OW on p5 might take a #5 or #6 but Blake did fine without them. A single 60m rope is sufficient. An ice ax might handy for the snow. Go get some! Approach Notes: Approach: Bedal Creek trail to the basin below the West Face. Ascend Blueberry Hill to a treed shoulder, traverse shoulder briefly, enter the basin below the SW face. The route starts in a prominent left-facing corner that turns into a chimney. This is about a hundred feet right of a prominent right-facing corner, and 200ft right of a vegetated crack leading up the diamond feature in the photo with Alex above. Perhaps 2 hrs from the car to the base of route. Descent: Follow the corkscrew trail around to the South face, and down climb or rappel an obvious gully to a giant ramp. Descend eastward down the ramp until able to do a single rope rappel to the snow. Traverse toward the South shoulder, cross over this, and descend back to the base of the route. Retrace the approach back to the Bedal Creek trailhead.
  14. 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
  15. Trip: Mt Shuksan - No-Fo-O-Fo Ridge Trip Date: 07/14/2018 Trip Report: Ok maybe the name's just a personal joke. Call it the complete southeast spur of the mountain. With a day off and the desire to wander around in some alpine ambiance I was extremely fortunate to cross paths with Chris Martin (Cfire) who was amiable to my somewhat weird idea of climbing the entirety of the ridgeline separating the Sulphide and Crystal Glaciers. The finish of this feature is the frequently climbed southeast ridge of the summit pyramid. Access was a harrowing traverse underneath the terminus of the Sulphide Glacier. Seracs, debris piles, rushing water and thin fields of snow over downsloping slabs. We ran and Chris still managed to take a sizeable block of fortunately slow moving ice to the thigh. The ridge itself was a lot of fun. Generally good rock along some choss. Lots of 3rd and 4th class along with a stretch of very exposed 5th up an intimidating tower. Some down climbing, a rappel and a particularly incredible “a cheval” section. Of course the views down into the chaotic bases of the Crystal and Sulphide Glaciers were the highlight of the day, creaking, groaning with the occasional collapse both seen and unseen. Recommended for the incredible position as well as some pretty nice climbing on the lower and upper sections of the ridge. Looking down the crux pitch. Another view of the same with Sulphide Glacier in background. The amazing a cheval stretch. Photo doesn’t do it justice. Top of the second part. Description III 5.6 Start just right of the toe. Solid 4th class rock and a short bit of 5.0 choss is followed by a transition to grey shist(?) below a steep tower. Traverse to the base then follow a ramp back up left to the skyline, a short blocky bit leads to a decent belay ledge below the slabby headwall. Start on the left then traverse right (5.6?) to a hand crack then easier terrain. From the summit of the tower traverse an amazing a cheval section then downclimb a steep, featured 4th class slab to a notch by snow. Continue scrambling up the ridge line until a 40’ rappel drops onto the Crystal Glacier. Bypass a small nunataq then climb the second stretch of the ridge by its left skyline. Looks chossy but turns out to be reasonably nice 3rd class rock. From the tip of this feature a steep downclimb on snow leads to the broad bench below the summit pyramid. Follow the excellent SE ridge to the summit. Gear Notes: Small rack to 2”. A doubled up skinny 60m rope was adequate. Approach Notes: Traverse below Glacier will be slow and (more) dangerous once snow melts off rock slabs. Go early summer most years.
  16. Trip: Central Cascades - NW Butress Sloan Peak FA Trip Date: 09/23/2000 Trip Report: Never did a trip report the mark b and myselfs first ascent of the NW Butress of Sloan peak, so I will do a short one now. Late September 2000 we started up the left side of the broad west face, on the dark rock slightly right of a sharp crest. first pitch is funky balancy climbing on not greatly protected rock(5.8+ish) heading for a dead tree near the crest. Pitches 2-4 climb up thru trees, a small rock step and a grassy gully(wet when we did it) topped by a large chockstone. climb up behind a huge rock pillar to a ledge to begin the teririble traverse rightward. luckily its short, until you can climb up blocky fun mid 5th rock to the top of the black rock.(great bivi) wish could have gone strait up the rock instead of the traverse but the rock looked hard (for us) and slabby. From the top of the black rock ascend just left of the pinkish, rotten rock slightly onto the northern face via easy rock, heather and small trees until you reach an obvious right facing corner/chimmney. starts easy(5.7) and gets harder as you go with the end being on small crimps with small cams for pro (5.9+ish?) Then follow the narrow heather bench rightward to the top of the steep west face(impressive bivi!) climb strait up the crux via cracks (fixed pin) to a small sandy ledge. From here it eases going up and rightish, many variations possible. We exited via a nice shortish hand crack (8+) to the upper mountain. scramble to sub-summit then the main summit. IV 5.8/9 It has 4-5 good pitches and 4-5 not very good ones, with 3rd and 4th class scrambeling Gear Notes: medium rock rack, small to 3 inches, 8-10 slings Approach Notes: same as for West face-Bedal creek
  17. Trip: Strobach - Jatinga (FA) Trip Date: 01/30/2018 Summary: First Ascent of Jatinga WI4 35m John Frieh and Joel Campeau January 30 2018 Details: Joel and Jen did a recon trip the weekend prior and baited me with photos of what appeared to be unclimbed ice climbers right of "First on Right." Even better it looked extremely similar to the Hyalite classic "The Thrill is Gone." Two days later Joel and I returned and made good time to the base drafting the trail he and Jen had punched in a few days prior. I saddled up and with a cool head and creative ice screw placements was able piece it together before finally getting good rock gear higher up. Finally "interesting" thin climbing (classic Strobach) guarded the top out. We rapped off a tree climbers right of the top out. Joel followed and we then ran a lap on what apparently was the very first route ever climbed at Strobach "First on Right" which we both found to be very steep off the ground before easing higher up. Joel and I did some recon hiking after that and found some other possabilities that Jen and he climbed the weekend after that. Hopefully they post a TR soon! Shout and a BIG thanks to Alex Krawarik for always being willing and able to answer all my Strobach questions! You the man! Gear Notes: Rock gear + stubbies recommended (required?) Approach Notes: Washington Ice: A Climbing Guide
  18. Trip: snoqualmie mountain - possible fa: the turf testament Trip Date: 03/31/2018 Trip Report: marko and i went kickin', scratchin', 'n stabbin' yesterday and unearthed a previously unheralded book of the bible: the turf testament. start a few hundred feet up the slot couloir at the large right facing book. pitches 1-2: two 60m pitches up rock & turf in the corner and some thin ice on the right face. pitch 3: climb a short corner, move easily left to the next book, & climb it to tree belay (<50m). [pitch 3 alternatives: a. possibly rightward escape on a treed ramp (may dead end on the ridge bordering the slot), or b. finish directly up very difficult looking roofs above.] pitch 4: climb up shallow right facing book with overlaps to difficult exit moves overlooking the roofs directly above the second belay (30m). [pitch 4 alternative: straight up through a short squeeze chimney to a difficult looking roof in main corner.] hike up the ridge between the slot and crooked couloirs to the summit rock band. pitch 5: up central chimney/gully to exit immediately left of cornices (30m). a pretty good photo of this route appears in martin volken's "backcountry skiing: snoqualmie pass". the route is very obvious to anyone skiing the slot so i would not be surprised if it has been climbed: any info would be appreciated. the route cannot be seen from the start of pineapple express. however, a party could climb the first 4(?) of p.e., then scope the route from there. if interested, they could cross the slot to the turf testament. if not, continue up p.e. are you ready to testify? Gear Notes: rock gear to 4"; screws to 13cm (for us); your choice of turf gear; a few pins (not used) Approach Notes: best via standard approach to nw face. dropping down the slot may work but has drawbacks (can't scope the route, pissed off skiers).
  19. Trip: Mt. Hood - Three Little Monkeys - New Route on The Black Spider Trip Date: 03/31/2018 Trip Report: “Three Little Monkeys” New Route on the Black Spider, Mt. Hood OR WI4+ M5R Michael Getlin and Walter Burkhardt I was chatting with Wayne a few months back and he mentioned that there was some unclimbed potential on the left side of the Spider. A quick scouting mission showed a beautiful and long ice line between the existing Fric-Amos route and the Elder-Russel summer line. A fat long ice line it was not, but it seemed to have smears in all the right places so we gave it a go. We left Timberline at 5am with perfect high cloud cover that promised to keep the sun off the east-facing, concave wall. We crossed the bergschrund at 8:15 and started right in on what we thought would be the crux pitch. A few vertical mixed moves brought me to the hanging, detached ice dagger which proved fragile and delaminated. It was a type of fragile water ice climbing that I have never seen on Mt. Hood. It was strikingly similar to the first pitch of "Mean Streak" in Cody (we bailed). WI4+ (Not Mt. Hood grading) I brought Walter up and then set off to try and connect to another hanging dagger directly above but huge unsupported snow mushrooms guarded it. After sending one down on Walter I decided to try right. This proved to be the crux pitch of the route as rotten snow over near vertical mud lead to two distinct vertical mud chimneys. The second one was protectable, the first was not. It turns out though that in a pinch, the rock/mud takes decent sticks. Several times when I thought I was getting in trouble, I just wailed away at the rock face and my picks stuck like magic! Gotta love volcanoes. M5 R For the third pitch I jogged left again, trying to get back on the plumb line which proved a good guess as we found sound rock with interesting mixed moves and wonderful water ice that took good screws. WI3 M3 After bringing Walter up, I climbed up a narrow ice gully hoping to veer left and drop into the upper bowl through which the Fric-Amos route finishes. At this point it was getting late and we were looking for a quick exit. But to my surprise the bowl was guarded by a vertical snow fin that would have involved about 50 feet of unprotectable down climbing, so I veered right and then straight up, finding a path through wild gold-colored gendarmes that rose like turrets over the upper face. We popped into the sun and knew we were home free. WI3 In all we climbed five full length pitches, the last of which was mostly steep snow. I was lucky to share this experience with Walter. He was a great mentor to me when I first started going to the mountains and I owe him a good deal of credit for keeping me safe and motivated over the years. Note: In retrospect, it’s worth mentioning that the face was pretty dry when we climbed it. The start or Arachnophobia and the visible parts of the center drip looked more like rotten snow than solid alpine ice. I think when the face is fat, the line would be a very reasonable outing. I was surprised at how direct, steep, and sustained it was. I would love someone to give her a go in better ice conditions and see if that little kink in the second pitch could be ironed out. Our line in yellow Looking at the start from below - the face seemed dry to me but it was my first time up there so I don't really know. Approaching the line (Straight ahead) Mid way up the first pitch Walter Following P3 Looking up at the start of P4 Gear Notes: We brought a single 60m, 2 Pickets, 5 screws, 4 pins, and 4 cams (.5-2). We could have used a few smaller cams and a rack of nuts would have been nice Approach Notes: Timberline to top of palmer. Dropped our skis and crossed the white river at about 8800ft. 3:15 car to schrund in good conditions.
  20. A few weeks ago, Eric Wehrly and I headed up to Half-Moon to attempt some sort of squeeze job between routes that already exist on the NW aspect. One of them, Digging for Dreams, made it into Cascades Rock and we were curious what else might still be lingering (see: http://blog.alpineinstitute.com/2012/04/first-ascent-diggin-for-dreams.html). Of course, Eric and I didn't make it to Half-moon because of our short attention span. We cut off early to Wallaby and climbed what may be new terrain (or really old terrain - we were not sure based on what I remember being Fred's non-descript descriptions, or maybe Stecks?). Regardless, it was an adventure for the soul. We left no trace of our passage, so the line's next 'first ascensionists' should have just as much fun as we did. One photo I captured makes the climb look worthwhile: During our adventure we spotted some interesting terrain on Half-Moon that I do believe is was climbed. I went back this weekend with Jimmy to check it out. We probably should have been concerned that the gaping Bombay flare would block passage to the stellar looking pitches above, but alas, we are young and stupid. With big cams in tow, Jimmy and I wandered up to the base of the West ridge of Half Moon beneath this feature. We climbed an approach pitch that turned out to be both harder and most interesting than expected. From here, Jimmy then embarked on his quest for glory up into the gaping flare, henceforth known as "The Maw." The Maw: Disintegrating footholds and a suspect nut placement that nearly pulled off the block when tested led to some decent small cams that allowed Jimmy to reach the roof. He then stemmed, crawled, and tunneled his way towards the light. After plugging the #5, Jimmy then "rode the sail" so to speak - exiting the chimney required placing full trust (both hands and feet) on a refrigerator door sized flake. Miracles worked themselves and around the corner he went to bring me up. Following this with a pack was not easy. In the end, our route ended up shorter than the neighbor next door to the left ('Digging...'), but we still found adventure to say the least. Beyond the Maw we found 3 more pitches of fun finger and hand cracks. P1: 5.8 (20m) Belay beneath the Maw in extremely suspect rock. It quickly turns to higher quality stone offering fun a fun thin hand crack. Belay on 1-2" cracks between glued flakes and blocks in the back of the flare. P2: 5.10- (25m) Enter the Maw. Climb right from the belay up past a few delicate horn features to find a few small cams in the broken face. Continue up into the upper reaches of the flare, then climb towards the light. Exit past the flake and belay on the second ledge beyond. P3: 5.10- (30m) Climb up a seamy crack to the right of the rotten chimney via delicate lay-backing of the arete. Continue up to wide cracks and a belay on the slab on large cams. P4: 5.10- (40m) Aim for the middle of the three cracks (finger-size), climb this, and continue up amazing finger and hand pods to a belay under a roof. P5: 5.9 (40m) Traverse right around the corner, and then up small hands leading to a #3 crack to the top. At the hand-traverse that finishes with a mantle on a rotten block, continue traversing right to reach the top of Choi Oi Tower. Though Eric didn't join us on this adventure, he was there in spirit. Because of the nature of the climbing and because we are skeptical of his boyish blond hair at 50, we've decided to name the route: "Uncle Wehrly's Toupee." It may share part of one pitch with Digging for Dreams, specifically the start of our pitch 3. More photos here
  21. Climb: Summit Chief Mountain-North FAce Date of Climb: 4/18/2004 Trip Report: Dave and I climbed the North Face of Summit Chief Mtn today after hiking into the base of it (via the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie) on Saturday. The conditions were fantastic, and we encountered more actual ice than I have ever before seen on a Cascades alpine-ice route. I think that the route took use about 5.5 hours and then about 2 hours to descend via a couloir on the west side. Joe Catellani, ever generous, clued Dave and I into the face a while back, and mentioned that it was probably unclimbed. Whether it had been climbed or not, it was a fantastic route, very similar in character and difficulty to the 1971 route on the North Face of Dragontail. We chose a line just right of the central rib, but many different routes would be possible on this face - generally harder to the right and easier to the left. Dave had a digital camera, so some pictures should probably surface fairly soon. Gear Notes: We had only 2 ice screws, but wished we had 3-4. The rock is quite compact (although not very loose), so knifeblades were useful. Approach Notes: Bikes, hiking, snowshoeing.
  22. Trip: Glacier Peak NF Beartooths - Catch-a-Sunrise 5.9 PG First Ascent Trip Date: 08/18/2017 Trip Report: This was an exceptionally memorable climb that I did with Elaine, which was her first trip into Montana's Beartooths. Myself; I have been coming to this mountain range many times since 2012, and have seen enough corners of it to hold my own against any of the local Montana Beartooth stompers, however this climb was exceptionally significant because it was on Glacier Peak. This was the last Montana 12er I had yet to summit, and I had been putting it off until the right time came where I could climb the North face Beckey Couloir Route. This is a rarely climbed route straight up the rugged north face of the mountain. I could have easily tagged its summit by walking up the talus from the Aero Lakes Basin, however I wanted this peak to be something more than that. Knowing the conditions dictating everything for this route, I had to find the perfect time, and as chance would have it, Elaine and I had that chance in mid August this year just a few days before the total solar eclipse (which we saw in Wyoming!). As an aside, for anyone wondering, yes I am still working on that Beartooth Guidebook. We had both just finished a successful climb of the East Ridge of the infamous Bears Tooth earlier in the week (see link above) and we were ready to tackle the main objective. The trip started on August 16th by driving up to the Goose Lake 4WD road from Cooke City and parking at the start of the 4WD road. It was a 4ish mile walk along the road to Goose Lake. We were hoping we would run into someone heading up willing to give us a lift but since that never happens, it didn't happen haha. Our late start of about 2:30pm also probably didn't help. We however hiked around the beautiful Goose Lake, and onward to the broad saddle between Iceberg and Sawtooth Peaks under beautiful sunny skies. Looking at Sawtooth Ridge from Goose Lake really inspired both of us to return one day to traverse that ridge. At 5pm we reached the saddle, and I remembered the last time I was here on a quick solo venture to Iceberg Peak and to get a firsthand look at the west face of GlacierPeak. The wind forced us to continue the cross country walking over loose talus and the occasional snowfield east towards Glacier Peak. We passed alongside the stunning Iceberg Lake until we reached the point where we started descending steeply down loose scree onto the large rock glacier that extends off to the north of Mount Wilse. It was a long and mostly uneventful walk as the sun was setting into the boulder strewn valley at the base of Glacier Peaks west face. The ankle twisting loose rocks on the rock glacier was somewhat slow going, and I knew we would not be able to reach the base of the Beckey Couloir before dark, so I began looking for a place to sleep for the night. The towers and monoliths that surrounded us in this valley were awe inspiring, with the added sunset effect really making the evening magical in an otherwise heinous walk, which now exceeded 10 miles. As my luck would have it though, right as dusk set in and headlights would have become mandatory, we got to the edge of the rock glacier, and shortly after dropping off found a beautiful little flat grassy meadow, with a small stream nearby that we could lay down for the night! This wasn't the first time this year that I got extremely lucky finding a place to camp right as total darkness was setting in. To save weight on what we knew was going to be a carry-over, and since we each already had ice tools, crampons and big boots, we didn't bring a tent. We simply threw the pads and sleeping bags down on the grass (or sedge, as it is apparently properly called according to Elaine) and cooked a nice dinner and quickly went to bed. With the perfect weather, we couldn't resist stargazing and looking for meteors for quite some time that first night, and thinking endlessly about the climb that lie ahead. I admit I was a little nervous mainly because I had been waiting to do this climb for years. Little did I know I was about to make probably the worst navigational error I have ever made in my climbing career. The next morning we started as soon as enough light broke the darkness of night, and continued hiking along the bottom of the west face, traversing the large talus fields until we could round the corner to the right and enter the basin below the north face. We hiked around a small tarn along the steepest part of the face below the northwest flank, and ascended once again until we reached a large snow couloir. It was roughly 8:30 in the morning when we reached the start of the couloir, and we took a nice snack break and switched into our mountaineering boots, put crampons on and layered appropriately. The climb was about to begin. We started soloing up the snow, and actually both felt comfortable remaining solo until we reached the upper end of the steep couloir, which felt like it had a max steepness of about 60 degrees. For her first steep snow climb, Elaine did amazing and felt confident the whole way. I recall thinking the couloir ended rather quickly as it felt like we only ascended about 600 feet before we hit rock but I didn't think much of it. All I knew is I was looking for a rib that bisected the couloir and it was 5 pitches of rock up to 5.7 up this rib directly to the summit. Well, as we were standing in the small moat at the top end of the couloir we were in, I saw what looked like a rib heading just above us, but the couloir didn't extend to the left of it, only continued up to the right. I figured the left side finger had dried out and started scrambling steep and loose 4th class up this feature as Elaine carefully followed. After maybe 100 feet we reached a nice ledge system and traversed leftward until I hit a 5.7 rock section. We finally busted out the rope and cams and I led this short pitch in my boots to a "ready to explode" ledge just below a 5.8+ hand crack that I wasn't comfortable leading in my boots. To save weight, I left my rock shoes thinking the route was only going to be 5.7, and just in case, Elaine brought hers, so she led up this 20 foot 5.8 crack and cut right into a large chimney. Since I didn't have any idea as to what each of the 5 pitches of the Beckey Couloir route entailed, I assumed we were on route, since the chimney wasn't too hard. Halfway up the chimney, Elaine made an anchor and belayed me up. She then continued up another pitch in the chimney to a huge ledge, which upon reaching myself, I really started to get confused. I still didn't know we were WAY off to the right of the actual Beckey Route, but upon looking up at how much more rock climbing we had to do, I was beginning to wonder. So we decided that moving left looked better, and Elaine led another pitch up somewhat runout 5.6 slab to a ledge, then I led up a somewhat garbage pitch on loose 5.4 to another ledge. We were now 5 pitches up from where we started roped climbing, and no end in sight. Rather than worry about how we might be off route, I continued focusing on the task of safely getting up this face. Elaine continued up our 6th pitch on now more difficult 5.8 terrain with less pro. I was glad she brought her rock shoes and she led these pitches beautifully. As she started up a short 5.8 7th pitch, we started seeing considerably harder, slabby terrain above us, and she found herself in an alcove with nowhere to feasibly climb. I climbed up to her to scout out what lie ahead and it didn't look good. Up and left was impossible, and a delicate traverse to the right was the only feasible way. I took over leading, leaving my pack with Elaine and started making the traverse laterally to the right, where it appeared we could enter a long easier ramp system that would hopefully take us to an easier looking rib off above us that appeared to go towards the summit. Lots of speculation I know, but knowing we only had one option at the time we had to traverse right. I managed to safely traverse across, but not without plenty of cursing, and make a good anchor. There wasn't much pro though so Elaine was rightfully hesitant to make the traverse knowing a fall would impose a large pendulum swing, especially doing it with two packs! I was able to talk her through it, despite not being able to see one another, however one move that required every bit of my long reach was very scary for her. I am amazed she pulled through. Once we both got past the traverse, I led up a long 60 meter pitch up an easy 4th-low 5th ramp and kept a watchful eye on any climbable spots above up to our left. I was able to definitely confirm that the easier looking rib above and left of us would lead to the summit area, however we needed to get on that rib, which was 70 feet above us and looked improbable. We decided since we couldn't see what was at the very top of the easier ramp we were currently on, as it curved left, it would be best to go as high as we could and see what was up there. Elaine continued up a right facing dihedral in a seam along the base of the steep wall that blocked easy access to the rib above. It was easy until she entered that left curving area, where she continued to mention small car sized loose blocks. At this point I couldn't see her, and after she spent 15 minutes or so contemplating it she went for a move, then fell. All I remember is hearing screams and watching her slide down the ramp on her pack popping two cams then stopping on her own (rope didn't end up weighted) as her pack got wedged into the dihedral she had climbed. Amazingly, she was ok despite taking a 30 foot fall, and after talking things through, she was able to calm down enough to build an anchor where she was, and allow me to go up and see what we were up against. When I got to the place she fell, I could see the large blocks she was mentioning, and found a spot to put one small nut and a 0.4 cam. That was going to have to do as I belayed her back up to me. I could see easier terrain and a ledge merely 20 feet above us, but that 20 feet was the scariest moment in both of our climbing careers. Since neither of us wanted to or was able to climb this section (mainly because we could not feasibly touch anything) I straddled the open book weighting the two pieces I placed, and with Elaine on belay, I pushed her up as high as I could until she could grab a solid hold above the two 7 foot long loose blocks. Thankfully she found something solid and was able to crawl onto the ledge just above. The scariest part of all this was that as this was all happening, I watched the nut I placed start to come loose, so as Elaine was midway up with huge rocks teetering right at my chest I also had to re-set that nut. This should have terrified me to absolutely no end, but I held my composure incredibly well...almost too well now that I look back. With Elaine now on a good ledge, I climbed up to her, which was a solid 5.9+ when I wasn't able to touch anything along the seam of the open book we were in. It was even harder in boots. We took a nice rest here, and realized we were not out of it yet. Another 25 feet of vertical improbable terrain was left until we got to easier ground. I saw three seams above me, and none of them looked good or offered much pro, but around a bulge to our left looked like a potential route, so I left my pack with Elaine and led out stepping out over some serious air and around the bulge, and found a beautiful 20 foot 5.8 hand crack that I just told myself I will climb regardless as to what was on my feet. I mustered up the energy to basically pull up on just hand jams with next to no help from my feet since those huge boots were not jamming in any crack! It was right when I reached the top of this crack that I realized we were going to actually top out on this face. I let out a huge sigh of relief and walked back right to a point where I was directly above Elaine and pulled my pack up, then belayed her up. I was very thankful I remembered to take a few photos of the sunset because it was truly spectacular, especially with Granite Peak (Montanas highest) staring at us from across the valley. Elaine continued on past me since I wasn't perched in the most comfortable of spots. It was quickly getting dark and I was really hoping we could get to the summit before dark. I led up one more pitch (now about 12 total), hoping this would be the last one, and I did reach the crest of the small rib we were looking up at all afternoon and was immediately blown away as to how suddenly it dropped off into a deep gash on a different part of the north face. It was very eerie coming up to this narrow, wildly exposed rib crest right as near darkness was setting in. Then I looked across this gash and saw another 200 feet of dead vertical rock silhouetted against the twilight and yelled out a loud "Oh sh##" Then I looked to my right and saw the rib continued up on easy terrain, and was thanking the heavens lol and I continued until I ran out of rope, hoping I would find some kind of flat spot to bivy for the night. When the rope ran out I came to a spot on the rib that was at the very least flat, but not very big. I didnt take a very hard look at it yet and quickly belayed Elaine up this last pitch. When she arrived, it was too dark to see what remained of the climb, and upon further inspection, we agreed we could both fit in the spot we were in for the night. We doctored up the area a bit and made a spot long enough for me and a second spot right next to it just big enough for Elaine to fit. I built a small rock wall on my outer side to keep me from falling off the rib at night, secured our packs with a couple cams, and put down the sleeping bags (thank goodness we had them!). We were not planning to spend a second night on this trip, as we originally were planning to climb up and over Glacier Peak and hike out the second day, so we didn't have any food to make. We both ate one clif bar from our snack reserves, and stared up at the starts for a long time, contemplating what we were doing. We were both thrilled and relieved to have mostly completed the route, and were confident there wouldn't be much more climbing to reach the summit. We gazed at the dark, moonless night sky contemplating life and admiring the stars. It was a crystal clear, warm and calm night...perched on a very narrow rib with huge drops to both sides of us. We were alone, free and in a state of euphoria. At this point I was nearly 100% sure we were doing a new route, and were walking on untouched ground. That was one of the best nights I have ever known, and made even more amazing to share with someone as amazing as Elaine. To add to the incredible nature of our bivy, as the night waned, and twilight gazed over the mountains, we watched a sunrise for the ages right over Granite Peak. We could finally really enjoy the views that surround us, as we were too intently focused on the climb the day before. We emerged from our perch shortly after sunrise and packed up our gear, which I then led up just one more 4th class pitch which dumped me onto the summit plateau!! I couldn't believe it, and let out a scream of joy. Elaine came up and we congratulated one another, had a quick break and packed away the rope. I looked up to the left and saw easy class 2 boulders that led to what looked like the summit just 40 feet above us. However, when we saw that the summit was a 10 minute walk to the south, up an additional 200 feet, I was at that point 100% sure we did not do the Beckey Route, and more than likely put up what would be both of our first, first ascent. When we finally reached the summit, I saw the top of the Beckey Couloir, and the whole route leading down directly below us. Elaine commented something along the lines of "Matt, that route looks so much easier!" along with a few joking criticisms that I have no idea where I am going etc etc...after all it was my fault we climbed the wrong route. I simply assumed the first couloir we came across on the approach was the Beckey Couloir, but take note...that is NOT true. The Beckey Couloir is much, much wider and longer than the couloir at the bottom of the route we climbed. My friend Vince from Bozeman pointed out after we returned from the climb that the couloir we climbed is called "Catch-a-Fire" Couloir, which had actually been skied some time ago, but after consulting with a few local climbers no one had known of the route we did above the couloir so we believe it's safe to claim this FA. In respect of whoever named that couloir before us, we named the route "Catch-a-Sunrise" to remember that gorgeous sunrise we witnessed from our bivy. See the topo below, and notice the much larger couloir well off to the left. THAT is the Beckey Couloir! k Back to the summit...I pulled out my bag of Oreos that I was saving for the summit, which was the only food I had left. We shared them and celebrated as I had finished my last Montana 12er in spectacular fashion. I knew we had a long walk out though, so after a 30 minute stay, and some awesome photos, we started down the south slopes towards Upper Aero Lake, and hiked all the way out and getting back to Bozeman in time to meet up with my friends Josh and Vince. Josh had taken a Greyhound over from WA to join us for the Eclipse in Wyoming, and we ate a nice dinner at Montana Ale Works. Shown below are photos we took from the summit and on the descent. A couple days later on August 21st, we had a group of 7 people atop Union Peak in the northern Wind River Range to watch the total solar eclipse, which capped one of the best weeks of my life. The experience of the solar eclipse was unlike any other experience I've ever had. During totality, you really are drawn to it in a non-explainable way, to the point where it was kind of mesmerizing, and mind-altering. Awestruck might be a good way to put it, but in a way that you cannot fathom unless you actually witness it. In the seconds leading up to totality, the lighting on the landscape turns a very strange, mostly colorless grey with a very off level of brightness. When the last rays of light do finally disappear, it turns way darker than I would have thought. There was actually sunset lighting in all directions, and a black hole in the sky. All I know is that I cannot wait to see the next one! Gear Notes: One alpine ice tool per person, crampons, mountaineering boots, rock shoes would have been nice to have... Also had two racks to 2" (one ultralight), single 60m rope, helmets! Approach Notes: From Cooke city, up the Goose Lake Jeep road to Goose Lake, over pass between Iceberg and Sawtooth Mountains, down valley below west face of Glacier Peak and around into basin below North Face. Lots and lots of talus!
  23. Trip: Bridge River near Lillooet - Bitcoin Billionaire Trip Date: 01/07/2018 Trip Report: Steve Janes, Danny O'Farrell and I climbed a new route off Bridge River on Jan 7/2017. After working in the area for a few years Danny noticed an attractive flow of ice high up the valley that had yet to be climbed. After driving by the previous day we knew that top pitch was in, and looking good. Photo Credit: Steve Janes After a 90 minute approach we were surprised to see another curtain of ice slightly off what we thought was going to be our start point- with the grade 4 ice looking good we started the climb there. Here's Danny belaying me on the first pitch. Another view of the first pitch which felt like a WI4- pitch. We were pleasantly surprised and excited to see this ice so low on the route. Going in we thought we'd be mixed climbing our way to the upper tier. Steve Janes dealing with the first difficulties on the memorable second pitch. Once we got going things only got better- after the first pitch we were drawn into a tight chimney and climbed thru some difficulties in the M6 range. Here's Danny making his way, or squeezing his way up the memorable 2'nd pitch. Here's Danny nearing the top of the second pitch. Once out of the chimney we climbed thru some easy grade 2 ice and one tricky M4 slab section before finding another M6 chimney. Here's Steve Janes dealing with the first tricky section of this pitch. Photo Credit: Danny O'Farrell Once above the second Chimney we pitched out a short 25 meter grade 2 ice pitch before climbing the WI 4- upper tier of ice. This was a really enjoyable day out with great company, this route has an alpine feel to it and is worthy of repeat climbs! Bitcoin Billionaire: WI4-, M6, 325 Meters P1- 55 meters WI 4- First Pitch P2- 55 meters WI3/M6 The Fun Chimney P3- WI2/M4 65 Meters The snow slope that had the low 45 degree slab (tricky) need to simul climb a short distance in order to reach a tree belay. P4- 30 Meters WI2 P5- 55 Meters WI3/M6 The roof pull then second Chimney P6- 25 Meters WI2 Quick Pitch to the upper curtain P7- 45 Meters WI 4- The wet upper pitch Here's a view of the route from the Bridge River road. Gear Notes: Rack of screws- heavy up on 13's, good idea to have a couple 10's as well, Rack of cams to #3, some pins knifeblades, half ropes Approach Notes: Approximately 43.5 km from the turnoff in Lillooet or 6.5 km before Terzaghi Dam. The route lies between the already established routes Salmon Stakes and A New Leash on Life” along the highway on the east side of the river.
  24. Trip: British Columbia - Coquihalla Honey, Clyde & Isabelle Trip Date: 09/30/2016 Trip Report: Two new routes on Yak Peak. Somehow the memory of an obscure Cascade Climbers trip report had eventually soaked into my brain and I realized that Yak Peak in British Columbia might be worth a visit. Google was telling me it was the same drive time as Washington Pass and the internet was telling me that there were oceans of slabs within sight of the road! Despite my general lack of enthusiasm for border crossings I convinced Bill Enger to join me for a look and we dug out our passports, vacuumed the car, and headed for the border. Once out of the Great Bear Snowshed the highway trends to the east and the huge bulk of the thing almost hovers above the little ribbon of road. From the rest area we gaped at it with binoculars and spent our Looney’s on espresso and egg wraps from the welcome food truck! Bill did the bloodhound thing back and forth along the shoulder for half an hour and ultimately sniffed out the start of the west-side access trail. An hour later we stumbled out of the forest squinting at the sparkling little snowfield and sweeping slabs. We sat and grinned in the sunshine like an internet date; trying to decide if the pictures matched the reality. There were no bumps or knobs, no cracks or corners just a sea of low angled granite that gently steepened for a long, long ways! In July of 2015 I returned with Natalie Merrill. I was convinced that there were good routes to be done if I could only adjust my thinking enough to see them. Still, it took three pitches with some wandering before I backed up, removed a few anchors and finally committed myself to the plumbline. For Natalie it must have been like waiting for a fish to speak latin. It wasn’t even hard climbing, it was just blank and looked intimidating. I had made up my mind that we were gonna bolt our way over the roof and hopefully find something I could climb on the uphill side. Surprise surprise but the “roof” turned out to be 12-feet high and more of a short wall than any kind of real roof. It looks like a roof from just about anywhere except right under it. There are four aid bolts and then it’s back to the slabs. Carl, Natalie, Bas, Nick and Zack came up with me in the next month and I managed to establish pitches seven through nine. The off season is long when it comes to Yak Peak. In 2016, I was starting my third season of dancing under a maple leaf. Clyde & Izzy remained one pitch from completion. I got Zack Krupp to help me get the jump on rappel bolting a new line to the right of Clyde’s. We were underway at last! At the end of the weekend we had three and half pitches in place. Nick Roy joined me a week later. This time we climbed Clyde & Izzy for eight pitches and then rapped sideways to find a place for the Honey. A full pitch above the roofs we started down the big black streak so obvious from below. Still later Carl Delica and I again rapped from the same height and I got a chance to take a second look at the pitches before we added the final bolts. I was almost there; two seasons of travel, gas, partners and money and by mid-august both routes stood one pitch from completion. Late in the season we got it done; Natalie led the existing pitches and I jugged along behind with a big bag of bolts, chains, drills and beverages. At 3:30 I was racked up and ready to lead the final pitch on Clyde’s. Ten days later we were back. I lead bolted the last pitch on the Honey and it was done! Thankfully, we got all our gear down before the snow hit. Natalie on Pitch 4, Clyde & Isabelle Clyde & Isabelle 5.8, A1, 10 pitches, all bolts, 2-ropes required Coquihalla Honey 5.9, A1, 8 pitches, all bolts w/optional 1” & 1.5”, 2-ropes required Gear Notes: All protection is fixed on both routes, 11 draws, 2x60m ropes. Approach Notes: west side approach trail
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