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Found 36 results

  1. Trip: Big Snow! - Jefferson Smootship Trip Date: 10/31/2017 Trip Report: Calling all Smooters! You don't have to hide any longer, list motivated peak bagging is all the rage now. Just look at those thousands of Bulgers out choss polishing each summer......and many of those peaks are pretty unpleasant and would hardly ever be climbed if it weren't for the hallowed list. In contrast, Mr. Smoot has compiled a list based on nothing other than WA peak bagging for the sheer joy of it. Such a good list, I might add, that I was more than halfway done with it before I'd even heard of "Climbing Washington's Mountains". But even an ardent Smooter has their limits, this ain't the 50 Classics after all. So, I typically pace myself, ticking off a couple a year in the shoulder seasons when I am looking for straightforward, yet interesting, diversions among the lower elevation summits of our home ranges. Which is why I found myself with Scott and Kit at the end of this past October hiking up the Dingford Creek Trail, en route to Snowflake Lake at the base of the north side of Big Snow. The gating of the Middle Fork at Dingford Creek has meant that the north side approach is the shortest route to the Big Snow summit these days. While likely not as dramatic as the Hardscrabble climber's path, it is still more scenic than I would have thought. I think it took us about 4-5 hours to camp or so, where we quickly set up camp at Snowflake Lake (where you can be yourself) and set off for the summit in the late afternoon. A bit of brush wrangling just about the lakes (would be snow covered in early season) found us on a minor rib scrambling surprisingly decent rock upwards to the broad summit ridge, less than two hours from camp. A quick check of our phones revealed that the indomitable Fred Beckey had passed away peacefully that morning while we were walking to camp. Gazing out across the Middle Fork at the Snoqualmie Alps (Lemah, Chimney Rock, Summit Chief, etc.), we raised our flask to Fred and his incredible life. We were all lucky enough to have run into him over the years and felt standing on a Cascadian summit was a fitting place to remember a legend. After all, the brown guide was what had gotten us to that very point. Crag on the NW side of Big Snow, I've heard someone has been up to this wall an climbed a bit: Kit on the interesting approach to Big Snow Lake: Scott surveys Big Snow Lake: Snoqualmonix! Gear Notes: ice axe and crampons Approach Notes: Dingford Creek to Myrtle Lake. Leave trail and stay low until right below Big Snow Lake. Go up cool talus gully to lake and follow your nose to Snowflake Lake, where you can be your very own snowflake. Up and left from the lake to a minor rib then directly up mellow slopes to summit. Would be doable in day with longer days of early summer and more snow. Great relaxed fall trip.
  2. 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.
  3. Trip: Dragontail Peak - Direct North Buttress "Iceline Bling" WI5+ M4 (FA) Date: 4/3/2016 Trip Report: Climbers: Priti Wright-led 1st pitch (WI4) Jeff Wright-led 2nd pitch (WI4) (scribe/photos) Craig Pope-led crux 4th pitch (WI5+ M4) (photos) Went up to Dragontail Peak looking for some new ice! Camped at Colchuck Lake and got the bino's out. We spotted a nice-looking line just climber's left of Dragontail's toe. Ended up being 5 pitches (most were 60m) with 2 sustained pitches of WI4 and one thin crux pitch of WI5+ M4. After the crux pitch, easy snow leads to the first couloir of Triple Couloirs just below The Runnels. Super fun route! We've done lots of research and found no evidence that this line has been climbed. If anybody *knows* that this line has in fact been climbed before, please *respectfully* leave a note (with evidence, if possible), and we will definitely correct this TR. Thanks! Priti leading up the first pitch (WI4) Following, higher up on the first pitch Jeff leading up the second pitch (WI4) Craig and Priti following the second pitch Craig moving the belay on easy snow (P3) to the base of the crux pitch Happy Jeff Priti following the gnar on the crux pitch (P4, WI5+ M4) Craig on an outcrop where "Iceline Bling" meets Triple Couloirs Gear Notes: Took rock pro and pitons pretty well. 6 screws (10cm, 13cm), small alpine rock rack, KBs, Spectre Approach Notes: No snow on Eightmile Rd 3/4 of the way
  4. Trip: “The Circumvention”, aka. Fan-Wallace-m5+, FA Date: 1/11/2016 Trip Report: http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/showphoto.phpphoto=110317&title=p1170012&cat=500“ The Circumvention”, aka. Fan-Wallace is located above Source Lake area. To the right of Flow Reversal, and Resistance Is Futile, yet left of where people skin up to Chair Peak. Best approached from the Flow Reversal area, up and right, reaching a sweet thin gully with turf hooks and thin ice. When it gets steep, there could be an exciting direct finish to the pitch, or the obvious off-width crack to the left. We did it in 3 short pitches, but best to do it in 2. Move the belay high enough to see the leader either finish on the ice daggers, or the exciting “Fan” finish to the steep ramp up and right. 60m ropes just reach the bottom. Pins, stoppers, screws and specters are all handy. more on blog
  5. Trip: Bears Breast - SE Mega Slab Date: 9/7/2014 Trip Report: I still haven’t figured out why some climbs grab my attention and keep it, but the SE slab on Bears Breast is one that I’ve had on my list for about ten years. This wasn’t from the typical sources of inspiration- Beckey makes no mention of it (though it is prominently featured in a photo), and I had never even been anywhere close to Bears Breast in person. I heard about the climb through my friend and early climbing mentor Mike, and the description he relayed from Bryan Burdo was intriguing and stuck with me. About a year later, I read Chuck's excellent TR where he referenced the “mythical East slabs of BB mountain” and the hook was set. Fast forward to 2010 and I finally got around to doing some research on the route. Somehow I got Leland Windham’s and Bryan’s emails and started pestering them with questions. They were both very generous with beta and patient with my questions, and detailed the history of the feature as they knew it. Neither were aware of any ascent prior to Leland and Bryan’s 2004 climb (anyone else know of other ascents?), but the nature of the slab makes it difficult to know if parties have come before. The climbing isn’t very technical if you follow the paths of least resistance (sustained 4th, with bits of low-mid fifth to link weaknesses) and Leland and partners didn’t rope up on either ascent in August of 2004 and 2005 (different lines each time). To reach the summit, one traverses north from the top of the slab to the Beckey route. Snow patches cling to the slab into the summer, so usually August or later is the best time for an ascent. I was pretty excited to get a detailed picture of what the climb is like, but it was still four years until I found the time and partners to head in and check it out for myself. Joining me were some of the usual suspects- Sepultura, Trent, and Sparverious. It is a fairly long hike in to the base of the mountain (~12 miles?) past Waptus Lake, so I convinced the gang on a leisurely 2.5 day affair. We did not get off to an auspicious start, however. We (I) plowed through a trail junction just out of the parking lot, and ended up on Polallie ridge trail instead of one along the Waptus River. D’oh! Some cross country travel and a drop of 1000’ had us back on the right trail heading to Waptus Lake. Sorry guys. Waptus Lake is a popular spot, and rightly so. On a clear and still day, Summit Chief and Bears Breast are reflected beautifully in the lake, and it is a glorious destination in its own right for the valley pounding set. At the east end of the lake we wove our way through the tents and stood on the shore and took stock of the route we had hiked so far for. It is quite a sight! I’m not sure if there are many (any?) other mountains around that have a 3000 vf slab of solid rock. The SE mega slab of Bears Breast is about a third higher than Squire Creek wall, for example. Head on, It looked pretty steep for soloing (to a hack like me), but I reminded myself that things usually look steeper and harder than they really are. After a short break, we left the masses behind and walked around the Lake to the junction with the PCT and, shortly thereafter, camp next to the bridge over the Waptus River. I had forgotten how popular the PCT is, and there were a couple other parties at our camp. This wasn’t a bad thing considering that one of the hikers offered to share her excellent fire pit and benches. We helped to gather wood, and a shared a bit of our treasured Hunter. The hiker (a nurse) had some entertaining/disgusting stories that revolved around obese patients and unfortunate tattoos (Wet, Wet, Juicy, Juicy, Hit it Hard??!!). Needless to say, we were outgunned in the story department. We were moving at first light the next day, traveling cross country from camp trying to find the old trail that is reported to go up Shovel Creek to Shovel Lake. We found a trail not far from camp, but thought that it was the old Cascade Crest trail and didn’t stay on it. Mistake! When you find the trail, stay on it, it will take you all the way up to the slab. We eventually rejoined the trail and were soon at the slab, maybe an hour or less from camp? From below the slab is incredibly foreshortened, but still a little steeper than I was expecting. Changing into rock shoes (except sparverious who did it all in approach shoes), we followed one of Leland’s routes (I think?) by starting on a rib on the lower left side of the slab. The sandstone is grippy and well featured, so scrambling went smoothly. Sparverious was in the lead and picked a nice path up and right following natural weaknesses in the slab. Occasional overlaps and blank bits provided bits of trickier climbing, but nothing was ever sustained and no moves felt harder than 5.4-5. But it just kept going and going! Never severe, but always good quality with very little looseness, it was a more fun scramble than I was expecting. Since there isn’t much in the way of ledges, you tend to just keep moving. Climbing unroped we made progress rapidly, but it still took us about two hours to top out on the shoulder. Certainly a lot longer than it looks from below. As you are climbing up the slab you want to aim for the highest right side of it, where it abuts the near vertical cliff descending from the summit. This is where you will find a short gully that descends to another, longer, gulley that will take you up and left towards the North col and the Beckey rte. At the top of the second gully head left on a Class 2 shelf up and left to the actual col, passing underneath the start of the Beckey route. You can leave most of your gear at the col and head up. We followed the beta in this TR from NWhikers and it worked out perfectly, but be mindful of loose rock. A belay ledge collapsed from underneath Trent and Sepultura, raining the lower part of the route with blocks. Thankfully nobody was hurt, but if it would have happened when we were above them, it would have been a completely different story. The collapse spooked us all, and we didn’t linger on the summit, returning to our packs via three single raps on fairly good stations (backed up a chock stone with a nut after Sepultura pulled a pin on rappel). From the notch we were intrigued by Leland’s description of a “fun adventure” descending to Shovel Lake and so off we went to the east and south, descending more clean slabs and snowfields to the treeline. Getting to the lake did involve some ‘schwacking, but it was never too severe, and I think about 2.5 hours after leaving the summit several of the team were taking a well-deserved dip. Below the lake you want to stay on the skiers left side of the outlet stream where you can initially find faint bits of tread, but mostly just rock hop back down to the base of the slab. A little bit below the slab you can find the better tread that will take you almost all the way back to the camp on the PCT (note, there is a great camp on this abandoned trail about halfway between the slab and the PCT, next to Shovel Creek). I think we rolled back into camp about 11 hours after leaving, and we were ready to relax rather than move camp closer to the car (which was the original plan). More sharing of the fire pit with PCT hikers (father/son from Wenatchee), the last of the Hunter, and brilliant stars made for a satisfying bookend to the trip. The hike out the next day was predictably long and somewhat painful, but we did see a bear near the trail that broke up the monotony. Around the fire that last night, we all agreed that many would find the climb a fun and engaging adventure. Sandstone is unique enough around the Cascades that all of us marveled at some of the strange colors, shapes and formations we passed by. Bears Breast only sees about a party a year on average, so you will likely have the mountain to yourself. It is certainly within the reach of the average climber and located in a part of the range most climbers don’t get to- check it out! Gear Notes: Helmets, 60m half rope, light rack to 2", river shoes for crossing Waptus river where bridge is out on trail. Some may want rock shoes for the slab. Don't forget the Hunter! Approach Notes: Waptus River trail to old trail up Shovel Creek
  6. Trip: Colchuck Peak - Northeast Buttress FWA Date: 3/8/2013 Trip Report: We never get to relive these moments in life. Even Though you may be scared or anxious from thoughts that bubble out from your own mind, the focus should be centered on enjoying the climb and to remind ourselves that that is why we are here and this is what it takes to accomplish these goals we have. Sometimes its not the most enjoyable times but the ending result can be life changing. I have been fortunate enough to partner up with Jens on a few demanding climbs. His ethic and focus are inspirational to say the least. The seriousness that overtakes Jens as he hammers incredible and often quite hard on-sights in the mountains is unreal. He becomes a warrior and fights for what he believes in, and that is ground up alpine ascents. I heard somewhere that "It's not what you do, but how you do it." Jens, just keep doing your thing man. We took off from Icicle canyon at daybreak on Friday. The sky was clear and the sun was shining on the snow-covered Stuart Range; who could ask for more than that? We took our first real break In the middle of Colchuck Lake, and from there we could for the most part see our line up the NEB of Colchuck Peak. After Lunch we began the approach to the buttress. The snow was soft and slowed down our pass a bit, but we were hyped to see a group of skiers that were tearing the place up. At least someone enjoyed the snow conditions that day. We got to the moraine and looked at the time. It was a little before 2:00 and Jens felt we could make it to the intended bivy spot: one that he had used on a previous attempt with Dan Hilden. We climbed two difficult mixed pitched to get to the bivy as the sun was setting. We brought out the headlamps and got to kickin’. Unfortunately we encountered rocks that hindered us from making an adequately sized platform to fit the Firstlight tent. We ended up tying the guy lines on one side of the tent to make it narrower, "We can for sure fit our feet over there" A picture of me standing where our tent was “just fitting" That morning Jens proceeded to throw down on 4 pitches of traversing "The snow ramps" We encountered soft snow, which was not ideal but it worked out. Next came the two slab pitches. The sun was shining on us as we wandered up the snow-covered slab into the beautiful left facing corner. One of the most breath taking features on the route was the next pitch; this for us was pitch 9. A beautifully stacked narrow snow fin with mass exposure on either side. We simul-climbed this pitch into what would have been at least one more pitch with a large chimney. At this point Jens looks at me and says "Lets get the headlamps out. We are going to summit this thing." There was nothing in the world I wanted to hear more than that. We figured we had 2 or 3 pitches to go, and at this point calmness came over me and I really enjoyed the last pitches spent on the buttress. We finished in 2 pitches making a total of 12 (I think). After reaching the false summit we decided to spend the night a few hundred feet from where we topped out. After dropping the bags we walked over to the true summit turned the headlamps off and soaked in this moment that we will only live once. Gear Notes: We brought a double rack of C3s to #2 plus one #3 and #4 Camalots, and some pins. Approach Notes: Gate is closed. Nice packed in trail to the Colchuck Lake.
  7. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Rock - Accendo Lunae Date: 9/5/2012 Soapbox Alert Climbers are basically the only user group to visit the cirque at CBR. Any garbage is ours. Any tape, piles of wood, campfires, and human waste is ours. Any rangers that visit the area go to police us. Lets keep this place pristine and set a great leave-no-trace precedent. I'd love to go up there is 20 years and have it look like it did 20 years ago. -------------- Earlier this summer I was up at Colchuck Balanced Rock for the day to try and climb a route we hoped would incorporate the best and hardest climbing on Let it Burn with some new pitches and the crux of the West Face. Scott Bennett, Graham Zimmerman and I began via the 5.7 and clean 5.10 pitches on the West Face, then followed Let it Burn for 3 pitches (which are each really amazing, thanks again Max and Jens for the work on that route!) Scott following Let it Burn's crux pitch From here we started up our new pitch #1. From the belay between Let it Burn's two 5.11+ pitches, we moved right and into a thin splitter. My friend Scott began to free climb, but neon lichen and a bit of grainy rock shut him down. We tagged him up a spare tennis shoe to use for scraping, scrubbing, and cleaning up the pitch, and he aided up to a ledge. He worked out a few sequences on TR and then pulled his gear and pulled the rope. Scott came very close to sending on his first go, but slipped out of a thin hand jam near the top. (Scott, lichen my tennis shoe) The three of us were sharing a single liter of water on the route, which gets about 3x as much sun as anything else up there, yet Scott donated his water ration to me as I strapped on shoes for a lead go. Using the gear beta he'd worked out, but putting together my short-guy sequence on the go, I flashed the pitch, but it was a fight until the end. Even though this pitch wasn't long, it felt harder than the crux of Let it Burn and much harder than anything on the West Face, so I think 5.12- is about right, but it might clean up a bit and be easier. Although I could have kept leading, I didn't have much of the gear I'd need to continue and the next stretch of stone had the leader moving right over a sharp, clean flake, not where I wanted my 8.4mm ropes running. I belayed up Scott and Graham and got the rest of the gear. New pitch #2 began with some really creative and memorable flare climbing on immaculate white stone, with a good crack for wires and thin cams. After a rest in an alcove, I got some great gear above my head in the roof, and did the double-handjam pull-up to turn the lip. I'd been hoping that the crack continued above the roof, and was really happy to find good thin hands jams for quite a ways. The roof is a rope-eating feature, but a blue alien sized cam can be slotted into a horizontal once you've pulled the crux, to direct the rope out of the pinch. I mantled up after the corner, and then face climbed slightly right to the belay which folks normally reach climbing straight left from under the roof on the West Face. From here we joined the crux pitch of the West Face, and finished up the chimneys. By the time we did the "5.8" chimneys, it was fully dark, but it actually got brighter as we simulclimbed to the summit, as the moon was nearly full and very welcome for our summit and descent. I joked about calling our variant "Let it Face West" but in honor of the moonlight and in homage to the route "Let it Burn" we decided to name it "Accendo Lunae" which is latin for burning, or ascending moon. Naming a 2-pitch variation to two existing routes is perhaps a little silly, but at least it should make route discussion and differentiation a little easier. With steep splitter climbing, excellent protection, good belay ledges, and sustained pitches at the 5.10+ to 5.12- grade, "Accendo" is probably my new favorite rock climb in the area. Gear Notes: Double set of cams to #2, with one #3 and one #4. Standard set of wires. 60m rope is fine.
  8. Trip: Aasgard Pass - The Valkyrie Date: 6/26/2012 Trip Report: I was joined by a couple buddies in an attempt to climb Acid Baby the other day. But when I realized I had forgotten a lot about the route and I'd rather be lost on something new than a climb I'd done, we made the last-minute decision to try a new route just to the left, on the same tower. This tower is probably called Aasgard Sentinal or Spineless Prow (although it sure has a "spine" up top) but either way it is a rampart of Enchantment Peak, on the east side of the trail up Aasgard Pass. P1 P2 (The orange rock where we belayed is a good landmark) P2 higher up Scott Bennett lead the first 2 pitches, I took the middle block, and Graham Zimmerman got us to the summit, joining Acid Baby on the last pitch. Every pitch was 5.10 and the rock was generally stellar. Along with the stemming corners and splitters, the route featured a an amazing face of knobs and blobs, overhanging just a touch and with enough gear to make it exciting but not really dangerous. P3 starts with a hidden traverse on jugs, straight right for 25' P5 knobs before joining Acid Baby's hand traverse to the summit Best topout around: Despite trying to find a solstice-themed name, we settled on "The Valkyrie" in deference to the area's Norse naming convention. (Aasgard Pass, Lake Brunhilde, Dragontail, Lady Godiva) It should be nice to have another mid-grade climb in the area, as there are very few alpine rock routes between 5.9 and 5.11+. It felt like a similar difficulty and quality as Acid Baby, a route one friend of mine has climb SIX! times, including 4x in one summer. Gear Notes: Double set to 3" - 60m rope - no need for boots or snow gear Approach Notes: 60 Left of Acid Baby, 2/3 of the way up Aasgard Pass
  9. Trip: chair peak - north groove area Date: 1/13/2012 Trip Report: the right hand side of chair peak's north face doesn't seem to garner much attention. here is one option: 1. start up chimney just left of the toe of the buttress mentioned in "washington ice." a short ways above the chimney, take a right trending ramp to a left facing corner capped by a roof on the buttress crest. hook up corner with good pro, pull left around roof, belay around 40m in frozen blocks. (alternatively, instead of the ramp traverse, climb directly up chimney/squeeze and up snice slope to intersect our second pitch.) 2. pull left into narrow ice "groove" and climb it for 20-30' then trend up and right on poorly protected snice for full 60m to the lone tree on right side of buttress. 3. here one could make a rising traverse to the northwest ridge. we opted to climb straight up from the tree to the obvious offwidth/chimney located just right of the buttress. hooks, jams and snice/turf lead to the northwest ridge in 60m. 4. one easy pitch along ridge to summit. cruxes on pitches 1 and 3. in the conditions we found it, i thought it was harder than pineapple express, maybe m5/m6. lunger's first time out...the twisted soul seemed to enjoy it. a couple other nice looking systems lie immediately right of the buttress toe. all would logically lead to the area of our first belay. Gear Notes: rock gear to 3.5" including a couple kb's. a warthog, snarg or spectre could come in handy but screws were not useful.
  10. Trip: New routes in Leavenworth - Colchuck NE Face, Snow Creek, Tumwater Canyon Date: 3/31/2011 Trip Report: It’s hard to beat winter in Leavenworth. We were climbing ice the day before thanksgiving, climbed roadside ice and skied deep powder through December, and had three weeks of good alpine climbing conditions in January and February before the arrival of a long pow storm cycle. Sometimes the possibilities seem endless. In late January Jens Holsten and I headed up to Colchuck Lake with heavy packs and a couple of days to kill. Our main objective was the NEB of Colchuck. This outing was similar to the other times that we have headed up to check it out in that we didn’t climb the route. At least this time we got to climb a couple of (hard) mixed pitches before we were stopped by unconsolidated snow and iced cracks. On the way down we stopped to scope out a flow of ice running down the NE face to the right of the NE couloir. The next morning a well timed start had us as the base of this flow by sunrise. Two pitches of perfect AI3 ice had us at a snowfield. From here one could go up and right on easy snow and maybe wrap around and connect with the NBC, but we simul climbed up and left for a few pitches. The path of least resistance took us over a pitch and a half of mixed climbing and snow covered rock before a snow bowl. The snow on these pitches was very unconsolidated and we pretty much had to keep digging down to rock for pro and ground solid enough to support our weight. In better conditions you would be able to cruise over these pitches, but in worse conditions they could shut you down. Above the snow bowl I set up the belay below a nice looking ice filled dihedral, but it turned out the white stuff wouldn’t support any weight. This would be a fun and more direct option if it forms up. Jens traversed about 20 feet to the next weakness, a steep chimney that we climbed in two pitches. Overhanging and technical, but with enough moss and pro to make it work, this was the crux of the climb. Jens gets ready. The route from the base. Dragontail lookin good. More steep snow and mixed climbing took us to a low point in the north ridge. Pulling onto the ridge was one of my more wild moments in recent memory. All that was left of the sun was a pink glow on the horizon, and a stout wind tried to push us off our perch. After dark I am able to climb and stay relaxed knowing that at least it won’t get any darker, but there is something unsettling about dusk when you are on a route without bivy gear. The summit felt a long ways off and a 15 foot tall 4-5 inch wide crack stood in our way. No big deal if we were down in the icicle, but here, now, with crampons on our feet and no number 4 cam it was a disheartening sight. Jens made due with a couple of pins (one is now fixed) and after a short fall and some tense moments he ran the rope out along the ridge. A traverse brought us to the NW couloir which took us to the rime covered summit and the easy descent. After some of the best ramen I have ever eaten and a quick nap we packed up our camp and walked back to the road on shaky legs. By the time I got home it was time to go back to the mountains to go to work. That night I stood in the driving rain next to my chairlift at Stevens Pass and tried not to smile as my co workers groused about the bad skiing conditions on our weekend. We are calling the route the Holsten-Hilden 1,600’ WI3 M6, steep snow. One thing that most people don’t know about Jens is that he is an extreme snowshoe enthusiast. It doesn’t matter what weather or conditions are like, he just goes out and walks hundreds of miles in those things every winter. Sometimes on his walks he sees lines on crags and mountains, and stores these memories away for later use. Promises of white granite, blue ice, and unclimbed mixed lines led me to strap on the snowshoes to head up the Snow Creek Valley a couple of times this winter. At the end of February’s high pressure we headed up to try a route on Temple Ridge, and while we did climb some nice ice in the sun, the switch in my head was flipped from up to down when the sun caused an apparently windloaded bowl above us to slide on our route, a bit too close for comfort. A couple of weeks later the death of an acquaintance in an avalanche on Mount Cashmere shook the community and my confidence. He was doing what he loved in an area that he knew better than almost anyone, a short snowmobile ride from his home. It was a beautiful day and he was with good friends, skiing steep, deep powder. The kind of day that we live for. A day that people around the world dream of, full of the moments which make magazines and ski movies, but for him it was just another day in the life of a guy who chose to live his dream. Today would be Danny Z's 29th birthday. When someone dies climbing or skiing it’s hard to avoid dwelling on the risks I’ve taken and will take, sometimes knowingly, sometimes unexpected and unaccounted for. Without risk however, climbing wouldn’t mean much. Summits and nice views are great, but deep down I climb to learn about myself and see where my limits are. This mindset is inherently dangerous, and sometimes it all seems pretty pointless. I want to be an old man someday, but at the same time I want to be able to inspire my kids and grand kids to live their dreams. In the words of Henry David Thoreau “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Last week Jens and I headed up to another potentially new line in the Snow Creek Valley and with the first swings of my tools all of the doubt and fear of the last few weeks was gone. The question of why does not exist in the mountains. Our route followed an ice runnel and a snow ramp to an obvious 200 foot ice filled corner, and up steep snow and rock bands to the summit of a small middle of nowhere tower. To get there start heading uphill just before the millennium wall, aiming for the tower with the obvious dihedral. The route is directly across from the Snow Creek Wall, and is about the same height. Jens is calling the tower Millennium Tower, and at the time he suggested calling the route 1,000 Swings to Nowhere, which I think is pretty fitting. M5, steep snow. The route goes up the slanted corner splitting the face left of photo center. Earlier in the winter Kurt Hicks, Aaron Scott, and myself also climbed an undocumented ice line in the Tumwater. Mr. Gecko has a picture of it from the road in this thread (to the right of Comic Book Hero): http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/997719/5 Walk across the red bridge, head west on a hopefully packed down old road grade for 20 minutes to where a rock slide blocks the path, and start climbing. Two pitches of WI2, and at the top we climbed an amazing pitch of WI 4 in a chimney. One of the cooler ice routes that I have done in L-town for sure. No one told me it was a FA until we were down, which was neat. An alternative to the last pitch that we climbed is to climb the obvious, less steep flow left of the chimney. I returned the next night to climb that after dark (because snow and rain was about to ruin everything), but downclimbed about halfway up because it seemed a bit wet and insecure. We never really talked about a name. Aaron liked Milf School 6, after a DVD he found on the highway that morning. I kind of like the name Another Roadside Distraction because I looked at the thing so many times driving up to the pass before we climbed it, but it doesn’t even exist anymore anyway, so maybe it doesn’t matter. Kurt has better pictures of this one here. A very PNW topout. Gear Notes: Colchuck NE Face: Double set of cams to 2" singles of 3 and 4. Nuts, pins, and 4 or 5 screws. Millennium Tower: Cams (singles), nuts, screws. Tumwater route: Screws (Stubbies too!) and you might be able to place a small cam or two in the chimney. Approach Notes: Walk like you mean it.
  11. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Crag - Milk n' Honey 5.11 Date: 8/24/2010 Trip Report: Over the last three months Craig Rankin, Abe Traven and myself made three quick trips to CBR to explore the rock on the right side of the West Face. During the first trip back in June, after warming up on the Scoop(awsome!) we esablished Leche la Vaca on the far right side of the massif. Leche was climbed ground up with minimal cleaning and required and no fixed gear. All the belays were from comfortable ledges with excellent protection. The climbing was amazingly fun, and varied from perfect cracks to knobby corners, huge solid flakes and a tricky little roof at the top. With four pitches ranging from 5.8-5.10 it seemed the perfect compliment to the more difficult free routes already established on CBR at that point. We were stoked and immediately began planning another trip to go back for more! The next two trips yielded two more full length routes up the steep West Face(Rikki Tikki Tavi .11 and Milk'n Honey .11) and a growing handful of variations and stand alone pitches scattered along the way. Everything was climbed free, ground up without the need of pre-cleaning. The few loose blocks that we encountered were able to be tossed off safely by the second. Since June we have free climbed at least 18 new pitches on the face. At this point there are seven full length free routes and over 30 pitches of outstanding trad climbing. Including the Tempest and the Scoop from last summer, and the recent addition of Scarface up the far left side of the wall, CBR is without a doubt the premier alpine crag of Washington. The climbing is on near perfect Index quality granite but much more sustained and Yosemite like in character. There are number of long splitter cracks that rival the enduro classics of the valley. Perhaps the most interesting development does not so much involve the climbing as it does the new approach. Paranoid Edit By literally burrowing through the mountainside via a hidden, long forgotten fissure we were able to reach the col in a causal sub three hour hike from the parking lot. This new approach has already drawn more climbers to the area. Please be respectful and conscientious. [soapbox Alert] Pack it out! Camp on the rocks out of the meadow. Don't shit near the water. DON'T burry your shit. Use the desert method. Shit on a flat sunny rock and spread it out with a stick. Pack out your papers. The sun and air will take care of the rest. Don't believe me? Look it up. http://humanurehandbook.com/ Gear Notes: double rack'o widgets Approach Notes: Milk N' Honey .11 It starts to the right of the start of The Scoop and left of Rikki Tikki Tavi. Climbs an easy corner up to blocky roofs then pulls through a strenuous flare(.10 akward) belays above in a good corner. P2 5.9- fingers layback then easy up to bushy ledge right of Scoop pitch. P3 climb large L facing corner up to cracks in slab. P4 is the real money. Climb up slabs from belay into corner with two cracks. Climb up cracks arching left until a thin crack that cuts out right through an overlap(.11). Pull through that onto face above and more easy climbing to ledge just left of the cobra head. Awsome.
  12. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Rock - Scarface (III, 5.10+) Date: 8/15/2010 Trip Report: On Sunday, Nate F. and I climbed up the highly visible rock scar on CBR. We believe that we climbed a new route several hundred feet to the right of the old NW Buttress line. However, we might have connected with that terrain higher up for the last couple moderate pitches. If the NW Buttress did indeed go straight through the rock scar , we probably still climbed new terrain as what rock was there is now hanging out in the meadow 1000 ft below. The 2nd pitch was the highlight of the route for me with a sustained steep handcrack and awesome exposure. The rock scar was mostly clean with some loose blocks on the ledges still from the rock fall. Nate on the 3rd pitch. Slab on the 4th pitch. Topo of the route. Stewart's Photo with the route added. Gear Notes: RPs, 2x #2 TCU - #3 BD, 1x #00 TCU & #4 BD Approach Notes: 'schwhack.
  13. Trip: Enchantment Traverse - Continuing Bromance With Peter Croft Date: 9/18/2009 Trip Report: Having been a bit disappointed at getting shut down on the Mt. Stuart leg of my traverse, I obsessed the following week on the 2nd half of it: Dragontail-Prusik-Snow Creek Wall (optional, maybe happened, maybe not). I knew there would be more water than I could ever drink, and an easy trail to turn the mind off. Both of these factors were reassuring. Friday, I got the day off work, grabbed the weather window and hit it. I stashed my bike at the Snow Creek trailhead, and drove to Stuart Lake T.H. For Dragontail, I chose Backbone Ridge because it's a better route than Serpentine. I relish the exposure for the four pitches on the fin. The off width was a bar fight as usual, and I ended up having to take my pack off 1/2 up the pitch and hang it from my chalk bag strap. This pitch out of the way, the rest of the route went well and was incredbly fun. I hung out briefly on the empty summit, and busted it for Prusik. I walked out out on the snowfield and found it icy. I saw myself sliding for life in my tennis shoes and made the executive decision to head east around the south side of Witche's Tit, and descend that way. This was convenient and didn't add any extra time to the day. Prusik Peak, the next stop on the Croft tour. The West Ridge held no surprises. The solid, reliable granite was a welcome contrast to Backbone's sometimes suspect holds. Being without a rap rope this time, climbed the slab and downclimbed it just to make sure I could do it. Again, I got to an empty summit, the theme for the day. Downclimbing took 15 minutes, much faster than the raps! From there, I made the only wrong decision of the day, which was to descend through Shield/Mese/Toketie Lakes. I thought I would be able to cut off time vs. the snow lakes descent. I knew from past experience the Toketie drainage spits you out approximately 1/4 mile from the snow creek wall trail. And, from what I remembered the trail was very direct. Hiking by Shield and Mesa lakes, with Temple Ridge forming a picket fence behind them, I was reminded just how beautiful these lakes were. Enhanced by the fact they were deserted too. I got to Toketie Lake quickly enough, snapped a few shots of imposing Toketie Wall, and this is where the fun ended. The last time I descended Toketie drainage, it was fairly straightforward with minimal schwacking. That was about 6 years ago. Now, brush is everywhere. At times it was over my head. Add to that brush endless downfall. Brittle branches collapsing under my feet. Endless logs to cross. And no sign of any trail. I was even cliffed out a couple times. I saw my chances on Outer Space slipping slowly by, pissed off at myself for not taking the snow lakes trail. I finally hit the valley bottom, and found a good log to cross snow creek, but it was 6:15 already. Dannible mentioned enthusiasm ebbing and flowing. Though demoralised by the eternal schwack down Toketie, I hit one of those bursts. I got to the log crossing at snow creek wall and didn't even have to decide. I grabbed the chalk and shoes and headlamp and headed up. Physically I knew I could do it given this newfound energy. Mentally, I was wary. And there were a couple moments on Outer Space where I had to force myself to just concentrate on the next foothold. But overall, Outer Space went as expected, topping out in fading light. I was able to sprint down the backside reaching the base of SCW right at dark. I reached my bike and started the slow ride mostly uphill. About 1 mile from 8 mile road, I noticed my right peddal feeling lopsided, and by the Classic Crack crag, it snapped off completely. I was shocked. This bike is a workhorse, having taken me from Astoria to Tijuana without even a flat tire! I coasted down to the start of 8 Mile Road, dismounted and started walking back to the Stuart Lake Trailhead. And believe me, the irony was not lost on me. Details: Hiking: 6:00am Climbing Backbone: 9:07am Summit: 11am Base of W. Ridge Prusik: 1:28pm Summit: 1:58pm Snow Creek Wall Crossing: 6:20pm Start Outer Space: 6:33pm Top Outer Space: 7:21 Back at Crossing: 7:58 Back at car: 11:15pm Mid-offwidth shell shock Colchuck Bidding adieu to the offwidth Greeting the rest of the route Fun fin cracks Summit Rainier from Dragontail Looking towards Prusik Summit Prusik Toketie Lake and Toketie Wall Top of Outer Space, SCW
  14. Trip: The Xedni Skaep - The Xedni Esrevart Date: 8/22/2009 Trip Report: This trip report is (mostly)true, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty and the innocent. (for some reason Firefox won't view this many images, try IE) The Xedni Esrevart You've been wanting to do the crossing for years, ever since you bagged the North Spire in '99. One of the three legs of the blue collar triple, a Northwest test piece for a so called hard man. But being this far over the hill do you still have what it takes? Or is this just your conniving mind making a promise that your long past prime body can't hope to keep? The serious attempts began in '06 with a couple attempts every year, most ending with bad conditions, with failure, with defeat. Watching the weather every day the week before and writing it down on the calendar. Several dry days are needed beforehand so the rock will be dry on the climb. The metamorphosed gabbro is slippery like glass when wet, especially on the North face of the North Spire. You hike in the 3,000 ft to the base and it's wet, so you go back down. You hike in to the base and there's low cloud cover with 30ft visibility, so you go back down. You hike into the base with clouds, you climb up to the start of the first technical pitches and wait an hour for the clouds to dissipate, they don't so you go back down. You hike in to the base and it just doesn't feel right. Your watch tricks you by going into 2nd time zone mode and you think you've lost an hour, so you go back down. Are you ever never ever going to tag this elusive climb? Are you ever going to get the conditions and have a high energy day at the same time so you even get the chance to face your fears and prevail? For every climber knows, fear is the mind killer. You have to control your fear in this arena or it will bite you bigtime. And the stakes on this one are as big as the exposure, as big as it gets, unrelenting on all sides, a narrow rocky ribbon in the sky, a thin fragile line of life or... a thick hard line of death. The gear is all lined up, over and over, it's written on a list, it's dialed and re-dialed. You cut the contact mirror in half. You find the lightest harness, you buy the lightest stove with a smaller fuel bottle. You take the back off the cell phone, look at that, the battery holds without it. The re-used energy drink bottle is a 3rd of the weight of a purpose bought water bottle. The big savings is the 5mil tech cord, 60m weighs 3 lbs, rapping like a spider on a thread but it's all good. Look at the mini lighter, is it full of fuel? Empty it to less than half, how many times will it still flame? Enough. You weigh the pounds and shave the ounces. The toughest choice is shoes, free solo 5.7 you want the rock shoes, but many sections have steep trees with pine needles under them and sand and dirt not to mention the moss and heather. You need some tread also for all this slippery stuff, so settle for the Guide 10's and the rock shoes. Being so far over the hill, if you're going to have any level of success, you have to find and possess an edge or two or a dozen, like think smarter not harder. Rock Jedi mind tricks. They're exchanged straight up for the long lost exuberance and all out strength of youth. The largest concession will of course be time. Age will slow everyone but if you can control the logistics to allow more time the same end result can be reached. Also you must never no never underestimate the power of the unmitigated mind. The mind that conquers and controls the mind killing fear will also defeat the depth and breadth of the task of slipping undetected, unmolested past the usual limitations of an age compromised physical state. The decomposing decay and degradation of the unassailable march of time must be held at bay, must be pushed back and away, avoided, altered, and circumnavigated. Wipe off the rustling maggots, maybe there's still some good muscle underneath. You startle awake at 12:30 am in the am. Car camping at Stevens Pass the night before, 4,000ft of acclimation. That being one of the rock Jedi tricks. The occasionally present small voice, is it guardian angel or guardian demon dependent on current condition of existence? It softly whispers two words in it's barely discernible voice. Is it ever real or has it always been just a mind illusion? Yes. Whatever it is, it's two words "hard snow". Dammit dammit dammit, don't say that, no don't say that. Chop off an hour of precious deep sleep and wake at 3:30 am and drive the 70 miles one way back to the house to get the crampons. So the planned and intended trailhead start time of 5:00 am gets pushed out to 7:00 am. Leaving the car to bust up the trail, but the uncharacteristically bad August weather presses down trying to smother the dream. It's murky low clouds obscuring the objective. It's doubt, uncertainty, lack of vision harshly weighing in. But by this point in time, in life, it really doesn't matter anymore. It will be just one more defeat in a long line of them, stretching back for years. The mind grindingly shifts gears to the fall back position. Put it on ignore and get on with whatever happens, because "this is the path where no one goes" and that at least is some small consolation. To the lake by 8:30, save the data on the alti watch. Documentation for the forum TR just in case the impossible occurs and you actually make it up this thing. The lake and peaks are partly covered with wispy clouds, it still looks iffy but maybe that chance is hiding somewhere there. Traverse the lake, stash the ski sticks and approach shoes, climb the talus and scramble the approach slabs and trees and brush. To the base of the normal first roped pitch by the late hour of 10. Maybe the detour back to the house is just a mind trick to get you to let go of time. So what if there's a force bivy when the daylight ends? If you can't do it in two days, hang up your shoes and hang down your head. Being a practitioner of the Nelson method, you jamb the pieces of foam in the heels of the Guides. Jamming your toes tight for the necessary precision of technical ground. Vegetated mossy steps and a ramp gully, the rock is dry but all the vegetation wet. Every foot placement must be scrutinized for moisture. Repeatedly wiping the shoe bottoms on the other leg like a cricket, a rock Jedi cricket keeping his feet dry for the grip. Then the first point of real neck in da noose commitment on this narrow rock sky path high above the howling hounds of doom. The 2nd pitch turning the "sudden exposure" 5.6 corner. The start is a short unexposed slab above thick brush that would catch and hold a fall, up thin edges and stepping out, over and above the abyss. Do you look down or do you not look down? You must look down because it's a mind killer fear test and this is just the start. Taste it and if you like it and can stand it take a bigger bite, you need a healthy appetite for this dish of mind killer fear, for there is surely a feast of it ahead if you're ever going to prevail. And today it seems to taste okay, and surprise surprise, the clouds are thinning....there must be something wrong, this just can't be true? Or can it? Up into the bowl with the two chimney's. A larger one below and a smaller one above. Your route diverges from Becky's description at this point. Heck most of the climb has more than one option, when the description is so vague how do you even know if it's the regular route or a variation? Face climbing up from the left on 5.6, it's compact and smooth, looking up there's old pins and weathered tat. It starts getting thinner, look around for easier ground, but everything else is harder, steeper. Small voice "there is no gimme here". Suck it up or go down. A few thin moves up then a thin traverse in closer to the big chimney and up face near it's left side and around it to it's top. A circuitous path but good foot edges most of the way, then scramble the bowl above up to the base of the 2nd smaller chimney. It looks like it would go without the pack but if there's an easier way why grovel or engage in a tedious chimney haul? Sure enough straight right and up some 5.5 and you're back on easier ground. This "variation" puts you right at the start of the treed ledge traverse. Ahh the safety of some brushy Cascade goodness. A narrow treed ledge crossing between bouts of mind withering exposure. Walk softly, tread lightly, do no damage and leave no trace. Do nothing to disturb the Rock God's garden. His extra special hair trigger death blocks are teetering above the chasm. They patiently await to smash down on the heads of lowly humans who degrade his life's work. And an interminable life it is from your perspective. Think of it, the time it takes to plan and shape the path of the magma flow, to erode the softer surrounding rock. The time it takes to build and shape these spires with eons of weathering exposure. How could you expect him to take it lightly if you dared to disrespect and defile his pristine creation? One pitch across the anorexic crack addict body width ledge to the North face bowl, it goes, on tip toes. The narrow treed ledge goes straight over to the polished North face bowl and meets it about 1 pitch from the 1000 ft sheer unobstructed cliff at it's bottom. So again your looking down the chasm, and again it's nipping at your heels. It's even wetter on this side where the sun never hits. All vegetation and moss are sopping wet, but still the rock is dry. The shoes get wet it's unavoidable, so you're constantly drying them. Half a pitch up, one foot slips, but the other foot and both hands are secure, it happens while shifting weight. Downclimbing and try to traverse to the true North ridge because TR's have mentioned it is an alternate. A 15 to 20 minute detour and it's a no go, thicker brush, more rotten rock and it's all wet, traverse back. Besides the normal 3 to 4 point solo rule there's a clutching brush rule, where available 2 or 3 branches for each hand. Branches from different plants when possible. Back into the gully of the bowl, this time paying even more attention to keeping the shoes dry. Working the stem harder. The first pitch in the gully is mostly 5.5 stemming and has a small treed ledge one pitch up. Then up the right side of the gully for a pitch of exposed 5.6 face, some positive edges, some rounded. The angle eases then half a pitch of brushy scramble to the notch at the base of the upper North ridge. Huge exposure down the West side, the biggest yet, and it just keeps getting bigger. Break out the Aces in the hole and stash the Guides, always keeping the double death grip, with thoughts of House on North Twin. The story of a single boot leaving it's partner behind and dancing down on gravity into the abyss. The ridge looks and at first feels harder than it was years ago, more exposed if that's possible, but once started it flies by. The shining sun drying the brush, the clean solid rock, the sharp rough positive edges, past more tattered rap points up up up and onward. The mixed forest heather rock above also seems longer than before and the Guides go back on to grip the differing terrain. Looking back in case there's retreat, the top of the ridge is un-obvious, remember this tree, this slab, this rock. Lots of scrambling heather and trees and then a section of bare rock before the summit. There's really not that much looseness on the entire North face climb, the real loose teetering blocks are mostly at the summit, and they are all around. A different voice? "disturb nothing!!". Yes Master Rock God, yes Master. Delicately balanced death blocks hovering over the abyss, angled downward and resting on small points, do not touch them, do not even breathe on them. And do not even forget. You will have to climb below them. The first summit, the timer captures the single Index finger for posterity. Then as promised there is a gift for Eve, two pale rose colored diamond stud earrings carefully placed in the summit rocks. Well sorry of course, it's cubic zirconia, because that's all one step above dirtbag affords. And after all it's the thought that counts. She will like them, although she didn't answer this time when near the start her name was called. Perhaps angels are otherwise occupied at times, who really knows? Rest in peace babe, rest in peace. Speaking of time it's precious, for it's already one o'clock, the zenith of the day. So read and carefully ponder the route notes. What little info Becky provides is as clear as Skykomish river mud at flood stage. Downclimb (how far?) until it's possible or impossible to traverse if you can find it, or you can rap off the West side after you downclimb the South West then back right over up or you can go around left up down back right left and down over right back and rap from the lower tower on it's West side and down and traverse if you can find it and rap again, if you can find the rap point or the traverse... or not. Or whatever. The psyche until now has continually seesawed between 90 percent gripped and guarded confidence, alternating pretty evenly at varying intervals depending on a variety of circumstances. At this point it leans toward the gripped. Voice "it's been hard up to here, but it just gets harder". You're at another key point of commitment, furtively sneaking further out on the plank, the chance of return diminishing behind you with increasing difficulty. The TR's have said it's loose and it is, but it's not impossible. Climbing down knocks small rocks loose and they rattle off and down, chasing the beckoning call of gravity. Listen to them very carefully, for this is another mind killer fear test. And if you listen closer, can you hear the howling hounds of doom? Frustratingly the traverse without raps is never really found and you climb over and back up to the top of one of the gendarmes and crawl to the edge to try and see the way. It looks so steep and blank everywhere, impassable, a phenomenon that will present itself multiple times during the remainder of the traverse. Only an up close inspection reveals the way, and at times dead ends are followed out and back before that way is found. Back down the gendarme and down around it's East side on ever steepening slopes and back up and around to it's South West side. To a tattered rap point, one anchor is just a jammed knot on a sling faded to whitish gray. A rope stretcher 30 M rap puts you down on a sloping 5.5 ledge, and tech cord doesn't really stretch all that well. Voice "I hate ropes". Please, it's okay. However on pulling the rap you don't whip it properly and the cord then proceeds to Houdini itself into a trick knot that jams behind a flake. And it's not okay. Dammit...No amount of flicking and whipping will free it. Luckily it's only some 5.5 up to where it's stuck. Take another chunk of not unlimited time and climb up, unstick it, and climb back down. Exasperatingly still not finding the traverse to the North Middle notch, but traversing non the less ends up at another rap point above the notch. Now to face your biggest mind killer fear, you're largest doubt and most persistent uncertainty. Looking down and across at the opposite face, the ultimate crux of the route, and also the point of no return, where the nearest safe exit becomes up and over. The Becky described 5.7 reputed to be a sandbagged 5.8. It's dead vertical with a bulge. From this vantage point it looks thin if not blank with a crack system on the upper sections. The rap anchor is another mankfest but it's acceptable, so flake out the cord and another full 30 M rap to the notch. And a small and very exposed notch it is, not even flat enough for a single bivy. Barely a flat enough spot to set the pack and stash the cord. The notch is about a 50 degree sided edge that gets steeper about 10 ft down and is only about 3 feet long. Not big enough to land on from even 5 ft up the crux pitch. Do you climb with the 20 pound pack or do you trail the cord and haul it? The pitch looks like it might hang up a haul, so you decide to carry the weight of the pack on this, the crux pitch. You can just climb up and see how it goes, if it's too tough you can always down climb and haul. Take some deep breaths and try to gain some composure, you can do this. You break out the Aces again and the chalk for the first time. You're going to need every edge in the arsenal if this thing is going to go. The ultimate mind killer fear test of the climb. Will you pass the test? Go go go go go!!!. It's steep, it starts okay but gets thin, thinner, bulge... steeper... sandbagged crimps. You don't want to admit it but you start to sketch a little, moving too fast, not finding the easiest way. Maybe the constant exposure and the physical difficulty of the task is starting to make itself felt. But you can't back down now, not after getting this far. Besides it's safer to keep going up and over from this point. A few sketchy moves and then there it is, at full arms length, a thank Rock God big sharp and positive edge. "You did it the hard way". Oh well, at least you did it without falling. The climbing eases just a little, but it's a full pitch before the 2nd pitch of 5.6 takes you to the finish on the ridge. A very large weight, that you've been trying your best to ignore for pretty much the entire climb up to this point... is suddenly lifted. And a much older and larger burden of the years of failure, of turning around too many times in defeat, feels like it may be finally ending. From now on whatever happens happens, but if you do your best and keep on your toes, this baby should go. You suck down another Gu and start on the second quart of water. The Gu seems to be working just fine and there's been no solid food today so that makes it an even more effective mind trick. Every time you start to lag just zap another dose. The 2 quarts of water seem to be going just about right, not too thirsty yet. Hopefully you'll make it to the main summit tarns tonight. The stellar climbing scramble continues on the ridge. Sunny dry rock, not too loose and just enough positive cut holds. With the occasional detour around Rock God garden banzais and through heather, and of course the constant mind killer fear exposure on both sides, right along with the continually awesome views. Ridge climbing is just like they say, sort of like being on a summit the entire time. It all goes hand in hand, this mix of everything alpine, the 10 percent of pleasure and fun letting you know the 90 percent of work and suffering is all worth it. The climbing up to the middle false summit is straightforward route finding and you go left around it and an easy scramble continues to the middle summit. Pausing just long enough for the requisite poser pic, this time a two finger salute. The descent down to the last notch is just like the first one from North Peak. The route finding is tedious and problematic, without much of a mention from the guidebook of what to expect. At some point you just let go and follow your instincts or the voice inside your head. Or are you just conversing with yourself? Either way you manage to get down. Some slab, crack, face, a reddish chimney, some trees and brush, and somewhere along this descent there is another rap with another manky anchor. You are also getting a good view of the route up the Main peak. You see what looks like the "wedge gendarme" as Sir Becky describes but it's not really certain, and it sort of looks like there's two of them. This view also has the good or bad fortune to see the problematic and exposed exit gully, and it looks just as described, a real howling hounds of doom sketch fest. A veritable snot slippery rotten choss gully of uber doom and gristling death. Lurking skulking scheming to throw the near exhausted and unwitting wanabee climber from his tenuous grip. Desperately scratching scraping tumbling smashing, down down down into the cold, uncaring, and unforgiving abyss, off to get the chop. The chop chop chop of death. No no no no no. Above all else in this life you are a survivor. If it's at all possible to stay alive, you will stay alive. You will either control the situation or avoid the circumstances that lead to a premature demise. You will continuously and vigorously pursue that ultimate objective with every fiber of your being. You will live through this. The notch between Middle and Main is the same as the previous notch. A very small sharp edged feature flanked on each side with ever steepening gullies quickly going down to un-climbability. Looking at the start of the climb up the Main Peak from just above the notch it appears to be vertical and blank. Mossy vertical gullies and chimneys off to the left and blank sheer walls and gullies to the right. And again only when descending to the notch and getting right up close to the opposing wall does the way appear almost magically before you. It's a thin series of foot edges and holds going off to the right. It's six pm, only a couple hours till dark. You hit up another Gu and a gulp of the water that's almost gone. You follow the thin climbing to the right and it turns into a nice rock chimney gully with plenty of stemming opportunities to rest your weary arms. The gully turns into a steep heather slope, and since it's North facing it's pretty wet from the previous days of cloud cover. Even with the Guide's traction you are having trouble maintaining grip for the feet in this steep wet vegetation. Somewhere along this field of steep wet heather the maximum points of contact mantra that every solo climber must follow comes to the fore. While moving a foot higher up the other foot slips. Both feet slide down and the adrenaline shot hits like a bolt of lighting. The product of eons of evolution, with the exposure it's been trickling all day, but now a full dose of nature's organic instant speed is slammed home to the bloodstream with a vengence. The heather is thick and strong here and the grip of both hands instantly forces in further, holding that much harder until both feet regain purchase. "I thought you were going on a long fast ride down?" Not even, not now, not ever. You arrive at the base of the wedge gendarmes and find a way up around the left one. It's gets steeper on clean solid rock and you gain the crest. An old pin along the way lets you know at least someone else has been here. You climb along the crest until you achieve the notch between the two gendarmes. But it's going to be very difficult to climb the notch between them, and it looks pretty problematic to anchor a rap. After some hesitation and indecision you decide it will waste too much precious time so you look around for an alternate way. Back below the gendarmes it looks like a traverse may go. You backclimb the way you came and traverse under the towers. It's very winding and a bit technical, but it's doable and you find a way across to a narrow ridge that drops to the Northwest below the right gendarme. You look up and again you can see the heinous death gully, the exit. There's just a bit of technical ground to get up to the gully. At this point you unwittingly unknowingly slip your neck into an unbreakable tech cord noose. It's subtle softly quiet and your distracted by the temptation of the exit. Up to this point the rock has been almost entirely of a positive strata and not really ever close to impossible loose. You eye this climbing traverse to the start of the exit gully crossing and without thinking proceed to climb. It quickly turns into a frightening gripping sketch fest. Apparently the avoidance of the described route, climbing and descending the wedge gendarme is going to demand retribution. The rock becomes increasingly loose and the edges are all pointing the wrong way down. Every other hold is loose and the ones that bang solid are suspect, cracked and thin. You side pull and undercling on most everything that holds because there's nowhere to pull down. Feet are smearing and small edges. Breathing, concentration, your heart creeps up in your throat, you get past the point of an easy return and dare to keep on into the dangerous difficulty. Finally, thankfully after a half pitch of harrowing insecurity and gristling exposure it eases and you're up and on the side of the evil exit gully. Hit another Gu, a small replenishment for the wracked out body and gulp the last of the water. Something anything to hold you back from the desperate edge. Sit and rest and take a breath. Focus. This time on the final crux you resolve to not descend into a sketchfest like at the primary crux. The rock is looser here, a bit chossy, there's no margin for error so you must make no error. Careful observation reveals a couple of possible crossings. You traverse to the nearest one and get a look up close. It's friable rock with nothing for the hands, a long reach to only one foot hold in the center of the gully on which you will have to match feet and then reach again to the other side. The extra sense says it smells like the way everyone goes, but looking closely at the foot hold it's a small knob that's cracked at it's base. Roped it would go but it's not good enough for soloing. You back out of the gully and scramble a pitch up it's left side to another spot that looks good from below, but a close inspection reveals it's totally blank. You climb back down to the first location for further inspection and low and behold there's another possibility. Above the foot hold knob a small dihedral parallels the gully up. "Careful the rock is rotten" I know, it's chossy and friable but it's a really good stem. You climb up a half pitch and another possible traverse comes into view. It goes with good hand and foot holds and a long reach across to a solid juggy flake. It goes it goes it goes. And it goes safe and without the gripping sketch. Another pitch or so of 5.5 traverse and the difficulties ease. Is that it? Are you off and safe? Or was that not really the exit gully? You turn the corner and the mountain starts facing more to the west. There's some more heather but it's dryer on this aspect where the sun has been shining. You downclimb one last bit of steep rock in spite of an easier alternative. Your mind and body maybe not wanting to let go of the mad thrills of this beautiful climb. Up up up heather and rock slopes, it's still quiet a ways but every step up more sure that you will succeed this time after all the trials and tribulations that brought you to this point in alpine time and space. The final bare rock summit slope, thank the Rock God, thank the guardian angel, thank the mountain's spirits... Eve and the rest. You have arrived at the summit of Main Peak! You have done the traverse! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHH HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The sun is getting low and as you watch the mountain horizon starts to bite into it. For once some time is taken to soak in the view, the sight, the sounds. The small town and winding road below, the lonesome whistle of a faraway train reminding you of childhood, of a time long ago and far away. The glimmering sound and lakes out in the hazy distance, the mighty volcanoes and near and distant ranges, all on view before you during this short time as a humble visitor of one of the thrones of one of the mountain Gods. For this brief interlude the pawn views the world as would a king. The view and pictures are good and you sit long enough to need another layer, for as the sun goes so does the warmth depart. In the back of your mind of course you're still not safe for you know the descent gully is loose and you're not sure what condition it's in considering the differing weather patterns this year has brought. Of course the alpine mantra applies, that the summit is only half the way home. But maybe on a traverse like this the "summit" is somewhere far back around the ultimate crux, and surely the technicality is easier from this point onwards. There's also the confidence of having already done the descent. So the epics that have plagued so many competent climbers when vague descriptions fall short and the visibility goes away with the frequent cloud cover will surely be avoided. Climbing, traversing down Southwards to the tarns at the pass your tired mind doesn't remember it being this far and you wind around in the dark for a ways. The headlamp seeking, showing the way past the wind's banzai trees, the fairy's meadows, and the glacier's sculpted rocks. Past the exit gully and down to the snow and water of the tarns. The two quarts of water went about right to get you past the final crux but the thirst has relentlessly advanced since that point. So by the time you reach the clear cold and clean water of the tarn it's as appreciated as it should be. Much more so than normal everyday life. Alpine climbing condenses, distills life to it's base and primary facets. Life and death, the necessity of a flawless physical execution in moving up and down over dangerous exposed terrain. The demand to continuously place one foot and hand in front of the other without falter or fail. Water and food. Energy and rest. Clear sunny sky, and wind and cloud and rain, storm, snow, and ice. Darkness and light. Hunger and food. Thirst and water. Two quarts of water and back up past the descent gully which is inspected as far as possible by the headlamps thin beam. Looking down the mountain's gullet, looking for the way out, the safe passage past it's rocky teeth. A small cairn in case of low visibility in the morning then up to look for bivy spots. There's plenty of flat places around this summit but you need something out of the wind and away from the chilling snow. A nice spot is found a few feet from the precipitous drop down the East side, but nestled at the edge of big boulders so it feels somewhat safe. It's going to be a force bivy, you've sort of known it all along. A bare-bones forced shiver bivy. The climb is done in a day car to car but not by you at this point in your de-composure. As a compromise you've gone light for the steep technical climbing. No sleeping bag and just an ultralite bivy sack and a 1/4" foam pad. You'll sleep in the light puff jacket and the rain gear. Maybe you can't technically call it sleep. You'll lay down with eyes closed and shiver the night away scrunched up in the fetal position. Trying to find that one position where the knees and shoulders don't constantly ache. The weight compromise has included food, one piece of bread, one piece of cheese, two ounces of olive oil. That's it. The rest is Gu, which works fine when your on the move but wears thin at camp. You don't even feel that hungry for some reason, so you eat half the food and drink some water. You watch the stars, the stars always there but unseen in the city. The big dipper is crystal clear and it's tilted just right to hold it's fullest cup, sort of signifying the climb so far. Sleep does not come for it's too cold, after seeming hours the dipper's cup has hardly moved, so you decide to heat the water for warmth. You haven't even needed the stove and fuel that was brought, so put it to some good use now. The only problem is there's only two quarts so if used for heat you won't have any to drink. Oh well you can drink in the morning. Tediously heat the water, careful not to spill. It only lasts a short time but you finally get a brief few hours of much needed sleep. You heat the bottles more than once, so hot they leave small burns on your chest, but it allows sleep so no matter. You've had your brief time of fun, now for the art of suffering which defines most of alpinism. The dawn finally breaks, it's overcast with the smallest touch of rain and darkish clouds surrounding the horizon. You crawl to the edge and take some pics of the stormy daybreak. You quickly throw everything in the pack, take the requisite summit pic with the triple fingers extended for the record. It's cold and your half beaten body protests at first even going down, but go down you must for while this is a nice place to visit you can't stay especially with no sleeping bag and no extra time alloted away from the grindstone. Down down down, the exit gully is mostly free of snow but wet. Careful of all the loose rock because your climbing in the gully below it for at least a thousand feet. Down to the 5.6 crux, you thought you might downclimb it but in a somewhat weary condition you break out the cord for one more rap. It goes without incident, a freehanging drop to above the last vestiges of gully snow. Down down down. To the talus field and traverse to the saddle of the ridge above the ancient sacred lake. A brief time to enjoy the view then find the thin winding trail in the sky, down the ridge, down down, hanging on roots and branches, downclimbing past the Mounties rap points. Getting worn, tired, now you hit the pass, down down more talus to the lake so very serene. There's still some snow but you find a path littered with debris for traction. Walking the edge of the lake, soaking in it's stillness and beauty. Watching looking you are now below the summit crossing you so recently made, back to looking up but now with the memory that you at least once looked down on all this. Retrieve the gear at the lake, pause to rest and eat before leaving it again, engage the tourons in idle gossip. "you climbed that?" Yes and shiver dozed like a decrepit fetus during the night, repeately burned by heated water bottles. "no kidding?" I wish I was, no not really, it was great, the time of my life. Down down down, the steep hiway trail takes it's final toll, you move more slowly and rest more often. Only by measured steps will you reach the end. Down down down, to the trailhead, to the car. The most dangerous part of the trip is still ahead, the drive home past the drunken drivers on the two lanes of death hiway. Past the cell phone talkers that should never ever have been given a license. You stop at the clandestine campgrounds to talk to your long time friend, the one that told you to "just do it". To tell him, yeah dawg, I just did it. "Damn that's awesome man". We converse for a while easy and relaxed, with a mutual admiration and respect. Brothers of the alpine discipline. You take a short rest and eat before the trip back. "you drive safe now hear me?" Yeah man. Back on the hiway, a quick look up at the peaks in all their splendid majesty looking down at the pawns, now including one of them that dared to at least briefly share that view. THIS MUST BE THE WAY THE OBJECTIVE OBSCURED BY OPPRESSIVE CLOUDS THE CLOUDED LAKE WITH THE DESCENT SADDLE ON THE RIDGE ABOVE LOOKING UP AT THE START ON THE SKYLINE LOOKING DOWN FROM NEAR THE START THE NORMAL START OF ROPED CLIMBING, RED SLING UNDER ROOF LOOKING DOWN THE FIRST PITCH LOOKING UP THE FIRST PITCH LOOKING DOWN THE 2ND PITCH LOOKING AHEAD ON THE TREED LEDGE, IT HUGS THE CLIFF LOOKING DOWN THE NORTH FACE BOWL, A 7 PITCH WALL IS DWARFED BELOW. LOOKING UP THE NORTH FACE BOWL THE SHORT SCRAMBLE PITCH AT THE TOP OF THE NORTH FACE BOWL EXPOSURE DOWN THE WEST SIDE THE START OF THE NORTH RIDGE CLIMBING TALUS AT THE NORTH SUMMIT AND HORNS SOUTH OF THE SUMMIT A HORN AND MIDDLE AND MAIN FROM NORTH THE RIDGE GOING TO MIDDLE FROM NORTH EXPOSURE DOWN THE EAST SIDE TO THE LAKE FALSE, MIDDLE, AND MAIN BEHIND, FROM THE TRAVERSE LOOKING BACK TO NORTH LOOKING BACK TO NORTH, YOU CAN SEE THE FIRST NOTCH EXPOSURE DOWN THE EAST SIDE TO THE LAKE LOOKING BACK AT MIDDLE NORTH AND MIDDLE FROM THE ASCENT OF MAIN THE SKULKING BRISTLING DEATH GULLY EXIT LOOKING BACK AFTER THE EXIT GULLY, MUCH OF TRAVERSE BETWEEN SUN/SHADE LOOKING AHEAD PAST THE EXIT RAINIER FROM NEAR THE SUMMIT SUNSET FROM THE SUMMIT OF MAIN TARN WATER BY HEADLAMP BAREBONES FORCED SHIVER BIVY SMALL TOWN AT NIGHT DAWN STORM SKY TARN AT THE PASS DOWN THE DESCENT GULLET DOWN THE LAST RAP UP THE LAST RAP LOOKING TOWARDS THE SADDLE AT THE TOP OF THE RIDGE ABOVE THE LAKE IT'S A MAGICAL MYSTICAL PLACE, JUST ASK THE SNAFFLES BACK AT THE LAKE BACK AT THE LAKE, GOD'S "JUST DO IT" SWOOSH (from a previous trip) LITTER DETAIL FROM THE WEST FROM THE EAST And please remember, walk soft, climb clean, and leave no trace. Gear Notes: A mini lighter with most of the fluid emptied out so it weighs less. Modded Go-Lite Breeze pack, 1 garbage bag, sunglasses w/scarf, 1/2 REI mirror, 1 extra contact, read glasses w/case, 5 band aids, altimeter watch, compass, hand written route description, becky photos, cell w/no back, camera w/ultralite case, chapstick, keys, cards, cash, TP, pen, duct tape, 3 mini no-climb beaners, 5ct 3/4 gear straps. Smallest swiss army knife. Light zip shorts, med polypro top/bottoms, 1 touk, 1 pr polypro socks, HH ureathane raincoat and full zip pants, thin gloves, columbia puff jacket, knee brace, 1/4"x 3/4 insolite pad, integral ultra-lite bivy sack. 2 qts water in re-used energy drink bottles, 26 lemon-lime GU's, 1 sm piece bread, 1 sm piece cheese, 2 oz olive oil, 1 TI stove pot(handles removed), 1 snowpeak stove, w/small fuel, 1 ultra-lite lighter, 10 vitamins including Ginkgo. 60M 5mm tech cord w/thin stuff sack, 2 4mm prusiks, Bugette rap device, ultra-lite harness, 3 spectra shoulder slings, 25ft 5mm cord, 3 lockers, 3 ultra-lite beaners, 2 TI pins, 2 short BD blades, BD Venom hammer, hybrid strap on alum cramps w/steel tips, HB carbon fiber helmet, chalk bag, Guide 10's, Aces. Total pack weight w/all food and water, 20 pounds. Approach Notes: Take the path where no one goes.
  15. Trip: Dragontail Pk. - Dragons of Eden IV+ 5.12a FFA Date: 7/22/2009 Trip Report: Obsession can be defined as a compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea. After climbing Dragons of Eden last summer Jens Holsten and I were so impressed with the climbing and the terrain we became completely obsessed with freeing the route. A September attempt later that summer saw us diverting to Der Sportsmen on the less stormy and warmer south face of Prusik, so we hunkered down for 10 months of daydreaming, training, and preoccupation. We both agreed that there was rarely a day that went by without us thinking about DOE. Finally, a year later, we were wrestling ridiculous loads up to the Lake to put in work and give it a shot (notice no less than 18 beers ready to stash in the creek!): It was a hell of a hump up to the route, and felt a bit awkward as we had ended up on the opposite specturm of our preferred fast and light style. Nonetheless, it felt really good to be embarking on the adventure and we rounded the lake full of optimism and stoke. The first day we hiked in, climbed the first half of the route via any means possible (lots of aid), hauled to the Pteradactyl Bivy Ledge and I scrubbed the Buttterballs to the Gripper 5.11 second pitch, while Jens cleaned up the crux 4th Pitch. Jens getting the junkshow as high as possible up the jingus approach ledges: Aiding the crux 4th Pitch: It felt good to be putting in some work on the route. I transformed the second pitch by trundling two really scary flakes. It's crazy that we had climbed through the flakes twice already yet I was able to trundle each within a matter of seconds. Not only did it make the pitch safer, it revealed some locker jams and good stances, dropping the grade from 11c to 11b. Notice the two flakes in the fingercrack above Jens head in a pic from last year. The wee flake right below the big boy, they are now thankfully gone: We were glad to have the Firstlight for the bivy as the bugs were horrendous! We caught a great sunset and settled in for a night of good rest. I had worked a 14 hour double shift the previous day and was pretty worked. The next morning we slept in and layed around for a while before getting back to work. The Great White Headwall was the dirtiest section of the whole route. I led and cleaned the first 5.10 pitch and Jens linked the next two and scrubbed them. The key to this day was to not get too worn out, yet get enough scrubbing and prep done to be able to free the route the next day. Jens aiding up the second pitch of the Great White Headwall (P6), 5.11a roofs: Jugging the Great White Headwall: On the rap down to the base we took some burns on the crux pitch which is both super pumpy and technical. We both made some progress and tried not to get too worked. The plan was to meet my wife Ginnie Jo, and our friends Keri Carlton, Max Hasson, and Ryan Paulsness at the lake that night. Of the entire experience, this was definetly the best part for me. Chilling with my lady and some great friends on Colchuck Lake, work done, resting up, getting psyched to send. Ginnie and Keri had spent the day preparing an Indian Cuisine Feast! We continued our trend of sleeping in and mid-morning began the hike up to the base of the route. We had stashed all the gear we needed and I became a bit concerned when I was struggling up the pass with merely a windshirt clipped to my belt loop. I was obviously worked and prepared myself to dig deep. Ryan and Max took off up the NE Buttress intent on gaining the top of the Headwall where Max would rappel in and photograph the ascent. When we felt the time was right, we began climbing. The fist pitch takes a hand crack up and left, we did no scrubbing on this pitch, it's a bit dirty and a bit chossy, but warms you up nicely. This deposited you at a belay under a roof where we prepared for the first pitch of business, the amazing splitter finger to handcrack of pitch 2. The pitch begins with a 5.10 traversing face sequence to gain the finger crack, from there sharp and steep finger jams brought me into the meat of the pitch. As I pushed through the crux I became pumped and things began to feel a bit desperate. I was able to stem out left to the arete and cop just enough rest to push on through the finger crux into the slightly less strenuous thin hand section. From here, i twisted and torqued my extra large mitts in the deviously sized crack until finally I reached a good stem rest hollered out in excitement knowing the pitch was in the bag. My hoot gained a quick reply from the ladies who were watching our progress from the pass. A short pitch of 5.8 took us up to the base of the crux pitch where we sat down to recharge and wait for Max to reach us. Shortly thereafter he tossed his rope down the headwall. Jens moved quickly throgh the moderate start to the pitch and gained the top of the pillar where he placed a green brassie and prepared himself to send. He climbed strong and purposefully through the initial boulder problem, solid calculated movements. He got into the crack and was able to place a good green alien and protect himself from cratering into the pillar. As he moved through the next couple of stenuous finger locks he broke a foothold and screamed as he swung away from the crack. Somehow, he held on. He yelled, I yelled, and Jens one-arm campused off a fingerlock back into the crack. I thought for sure he was going to fall, but he held on. Once back in the crack, he pushed on. More screaming, cursing, and cranking continued and soon enough Jens had gained the belay. Seconding, I felt strong moving through the boulder problem, but my strength quickly sapped and i fell from the first few fingerlocks. I lowered off and rested for a second go. I got higher my second try, but screamed in frustration as I again slipped out of the crack. I lowered again and this time took a longer rest. My third try saw me reach even higher but I was spanked, i fell, screamed in frustration, and shortly accepted that I was not going to get this one clean. I had hoped for a clean ascent, but I just didn't have it in me. Jens moving into the business, P4 5.12a: We moved on up to the Pteradactly ledge at the base of the Headwall and rested again. I was worked, and tried to get out of leading the second pitch of the headwall but Jens called me out, saying he thought I could do it and that I should give it a burn. Thanks Jens! He lead the recently transformed first 5.10 pitch up the headwall to a ok stance beneath the series of large roofs that makes up pitch 7 5.11a. We hadn't scrubbed much from this pitch, but it was clean enough to send and I did. Really wild climbing takes you out the roof of the headwall with solid hand cracks, it's hyper-exposed and very out of place in the alpine. Jens followed and we prepared for the final pitch, steep face and crack climbing leads to the top of the Headwall 5.11d. Nearing the big roof on P7, 5.11a: This had been the dirtiest pitch of the route and though Jens had scrubbed what he needed to, it was still quite filthy, compounding the condition of the pitch, was the fact that we hadn't ever really given it a free burn, even on TR. Jens left the belay with his work cut out for him. A non-stop barrage of kitty litter rained down on me as Jens moved up the pitch. The first crux involves sequential deadpoints to positive flakes which Jens got through without too much fuss. He fired in some gear under the crux bulge, and rested up. After a few false-starts he was off, you could tell the climbing was hard, and Jens was going for it. He pushed through the bulge with footholds breaking and flakes flexing, at one point his last piece was a couple bodylengths below him and he was desperatly stabbing to continue. It was quite a show. He pushed on to the top mantled the headwall and DOE was free. We continued as two parties of two up the NE Buttress to the NE Summit. The day had gotten hot and the shade of the east side of the summit was a welcome releif. Two double rope rappels got us down and we began the arduous trudge down Aasgard. Since our ascent two parties of our friends have climbed the route and it has received good reviews, though they both commented about how dirty it still is. One party was able to place a bomber green alien from their tippytoes to protect the moves off the pillar on the crux pitch. This essentially takes the R out of the grade. Also, Blake and Pete H climbed a variation that we pointed out to avoid the crux pitch. It is an obvious crack about 25 ft to the right of the crux pitch and went at 10+. I highly recommend the route and hope people don't let the difficulty of the grade deter them from giving it a burn. With just a few french free moves on a couple pitches, the grade can drop down to 11- or 10+ C1. I think even aid climbers would have a blast spending some time on the route, with only a mandatory move of 10b face on pitch 2. The hauling's clean and the climbing's steep. It is possible to rap the route without too much nonsense (and with two ropes) from the top of The Great White Headwall. Though this is a an option (for slackers) I highly recommend the finish up the NE Buttress which is pretty stress free, and aesthetic, and would earn one a full tick. Feel free to PM with any questions. Hats off again to Wayne and Bob for their impressive 1989 ascent! Free Rack: dbl blue and green aliens, triple yellow alien to #1, with dbl #2's and #3's. Single set of nuts with one green HB Brassie (#5). TOPO Climbing Hot Flash Jen's TR Mucho gracias to Wayne Wallace, Max Hasson, Ryan Paulsness, Ginnie Jo Blue, Keri Carlton, Jim Nelson at Pro Mountain Sports, Adam at Leavenworth Mountain Sports, and Graham Williams at Cilogear (4 cilogear packs were used for this ascent) for their continued help and support. You guys rock! Thanks for the patience in getting this TR written, edited, and refined.
  16. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Rock - The Scoop III+ 5.11c (FA) Date: 8/9/2009 Trip Report: During a trip to climb the west face (III 5.12a) on Colchuck Balanced Rock (CBR) last year, Evan and I were amazed at the lack of development of lines to the right. We decided on the spot that we had to try and find a new route next year. We took a large number of high-resolution photos and trudged our way back down the gulley to Colchuck lake. Over the winter, we spent time studying the photos, drooling over several possible lines, but one particular feature kept catching our eye: a large dihedral carved out of the rock about halfway up the face. It almost appeared as if a giant had used an oversized ice cream scoop to dig it out, creating a sharp dihedral at the bottom and slowly “scooping” out into an overhang. Not knowing what was in store for us, we knew we would need another strong climber along, so we contacted our friend Stewart, and put in for two separate four-day permits. Our first trip began on an early morning in June, with three of us slugging heavy packs up the loose gully to CBR. We set up camp amongst the white bus-sized boulders at the bottom of the route, and started setting up for the unknown. Although dirty, the first three pitches were dispatched onsight and free (9, 10a, 10a) leading us to a large ledge that seemed to be the launch point for a wide variety of lines up the second half of the face. We were now finally face to face with scooped dihedral that we had been dreaming of during the rainy Seattle winter. Even though we were now directly below the pitch, it was impossible to tell if there was a crack in the dihedral or whether it was simply a copperhead seam. Stewart set off aiding the pitch and we held our breath in anticipation. With every foot of progress came questions from below, “Is there still crack above you? Does it pinch off? What size is it?” As he continued to climb and remove the thick lichen, we were simply amazed that it continued to dish up a beautiful finger crack that widened into occasional hand jams near the final overhanging 20-foot section. It looked like the line might go free, but the major concern was the lack of good foot holds most of the way, and lack of rests for over 120 feet of the full 200-foot pitch. If it would go, it was going to be one hard pitch for sure. On the third day, we started late in the cold spring temperatures and wind and soon found ourselves sitting on a spacious ledge at the top of the scoop pitch. Across a slab twenty feet to our left started yet another long dihedral, angling up into two large ominous roofs. It was our luck that there was a small sloping ledge that allowed us to traverse across into the thin crack and up to a very dirty corner. The crack was filled with decades of accumulated dirt, moss, and plants and at this point we knew we had to go back into aiding and try to return and eventually free the pitch. A couple of hours and twenty pounds of dirt later, we came to the first of the roofs. It was almost as by design that a small knob appeared for a foot below with a hand crack under the roof allowing us to traverse to yet another ledge. The second roof appeared to be even harder than the first, requiring climbing up, traversing, and down climbing again to get back out and left to the end and into the final dihedral. The edge of the roof provided a unique “fang” feature that allowed for a nice rest following the delicate traverse. Again due to the dirtiness of the cracks, we aided through this section to gain a large ledge system several hundred feet below the summit. We knew from climbing the west face route the year before that we were about four easy 5th class pitches from the top, but due to weather we proceed to rappel down the route. On the last day, we headed up to give our first try at the scoop pitch to see what it would require to eventually lead it. After several runs on top rope, we knew we might be able to eventually lead it, but it would take everything we had to get it. We rappelled to the ground and headed back to the car in a mid-June snowstorm. So far we had everything that we were hoping for: a new route on CBR that was completed ground up, and never required a single piton or a bolt. Now the question was, would the line go free? Six weeks later, we found ourselves on the long hike back up to CBR, this time leaving most of the aid gear at home with the hopes of going into full free mode. We had two major goals: top out the route and free the three pitches that were previously aided. The first goal was fairly easy, after topping out on pitch 6, the three of us roped up and simul-climbed to the summit. The second goal was a little harder. On the summit day, each one of us tackled one of the remaining aid pitches, with only pitch 5 going free at 5.10b on the first go. After some additional cleaning, pitch 6 eventually went free at 5.10a, making it an excellent final pitch to the route. The scoop pitch evaded us for three days and we were worried that we may not be able to send it at all on this trip. On the last day, we got a late start and headed back up to launch ledge and Evan’s last go at the lead. The cold temperatures were perfect for friction, but unfortunately were also good for creating numb fingers and toes, not great for the sharp crack and featureless dihedral. To warm up, Evan lowered down pitch 3 and took a warm up lap to get the blood flowing. After a 5 minute rest and a few deep breaths, he launched off the ledge and sent it on his first go of the day. The last remaining pitch now went free at 5.11c. There was little discussion or argument about the name of the route; due to the dominance of the feature on pitch 4, we all agreed to name the route “The Scoop”, III+ 5.11c, 10 pitches. Stewart and Matt figuring out where to start the route: Stewart leading p2 (in the v-slot): Stewart belaying Evan up p2: Matt leading p3: Stewart finds a hidden crack below all the lichen: Evan starting the Scoop: Below the first roof on p4: Start of the overhang on p4: Evan on the Scoop p4: I'm not sure the tape helped here: Stewart coming across the groove: Stewart leading p5: Evan and Matt coming up p5: Matt on p5: Matt leading p6: Simul-climbing to the top: Evan and Stewart at the top of CBR: Matt, Evan, and Stewart after the clean send: Our river beers were waiting at the car: Topo (PM me for a higher res image): Routes on CBR:
  17. Trip: Mt. Stuart - Gorillas in the Mist - IV 5.11 Date: 7/8/2009 Trip Report: Mt. Stuart is one of the Cascades' most iconic and complex peaks. With such prominence, fame, and extensive development, one might think that all significant new routes have been climbed. However, excellent routes do at least remain unfinished. Inspired by the pictures from an attempt by Mark Allen and Mike Layton, as well as a desire to climb or unearth a new hard route on the Enchantment's premiere peak, Sol Wertkin and I were excited to give the West Stuart Wall a go. Work and anniversary obligations had cut Sol's available climbing time down to one day, so I contacted Jens Holsten to see if he wanted to head up to the peak with me on day one, in order to fix the first few pitches and have Sol meet us on day 2. Jens was stoked to join the team, but insisted we could go alpine style. Of course Jens also insisted it would be 90 degrees on the summit and we didn't need to bring backpacks. Caveat Emptor when getting beta from Mr. Holsten. NOAA was predicting breezy and cool conditions, so we all brought along windshirts. It's summer right? We left the trailhead at 5am and after a few hours ended up at Goat Pass, near the start of the West Ridge. The West Stuart Wall rises up maybe 900' from the snow... but where the hell was it? The face had seen various activity in the past, and we found 2 bolted anchors (stamped '1993') as well as runners low on the route. Perhaps it was a rappel route, perhaps it was someone's unfinished (or aided) project, or perhaps it had already been sent in its entirety. We didn't know and didn't really care. Roping up at the base, we knew we'd have some solid, memorable, and steep climbing. Edited/explained down below - after contact with the 1993 folks, it sounds like this climb was a new route to the top of the wall and the peak Jens led off pitch one, following the OBVIOUS clean hand crack, mantle, and chimney to a belay on the right. This pitch was probably the crux of the route at 5.11- and would see nearly constant traffic if it were located at a crag in the icicle. Steep, with solid rock and great gear, it set the perfect tone for the wall. Top of P1 The next pitch headed up and left across 2 bottomless corners and hanging aretes, 5.9 with positions to keep the adrenaline going. Jens' final lead was the mental crux for us, but shouldn't deter future parties. He headed up and left from the belay, past a 4" crack, and shouted "Watch me" as he launched into the unknown. Sol and I, unable to see the climber, witnessed a large handhold get ripped from the wall, and the simian sounds of grunting and vomiting as Jens styled the 'monkey traverse.' Did you throw up? No way man... just a little dry heaving Jens would go on to finish the pitch in style. The followers both cleaned out the hand traverse crack, and future parties should find no shortage of solid gear all along this pitch. 5.10+ Sol about to 'go ape' Finishing the Monkey Traverse Did you see that big block come flying off? ...uhh yeah, we thought it was you From here Sol took over, finding a yosemite v-slot, and an immaculate finger crack and stem box to another perfectly flat ledge. 5.10- Pitch #5 headed up and right, with a bouldery 5.10 crux move, belaying at the first significant ledge system on the wall. We continued across the 'skywalk traverse' to the right and set off again. I took the lead for a 30m pitch of 5.8 (but mostly easier) on what we thought would lead up to the West Ridge, but we hadn't finished the wall yet. From a belay in the clean V-slot/groove, I followed up a long immaculate right-facing corner, with hand and fist cracks through a small roof, and finger cracks up a slab to the hanging belay, our first belay spot that was not a comfortably flat ledge. This pitch was 55m of sustained 5.8 crack climbing. From the hanging belay, a short hand crack lead straight up to the West Ridge, and I mantled over the top with a 'whoop' and monkey shout. We started up the West Ridge in a fog, with winds steadily increasing. Winding around towers and hidden pinnacles, the rock was more and more covered in ice. Soon our rope and cams were iced up as well. The wandering terrain and numerous gendarmes kept us guessing, and as darkness fell, we knew it was time to quit fighting the conditions. The three of us settled in for a memorable bivy of uncontrolled shivering, made more so by the presence of 0 sleeping bags, no stove, no puffy jackets, and 2 30liter packs in which to stuff our six wet feet. I don't know the temperature, but Jens' water bottle froze. We joked about getting lost on a mountain which we had all climbed before, but kept our spirits high thinking about the quality terrain we'd covered. In the past few years 3 of the Enchantments' 4 biggest peaks had seen new or 're-discovered' hard, excellent rock climbs. Solid Gold and Der Sportsman had been unearthed on Prusik, Dragons of Eden was re-climbed on Dragontail, and The Tempest Wall established on Colchuck Balanced Rock. With a climb of the West Stuart Wall, the 4th peak had fallen into place and Stuart's modern rock climb established. Our platonic spooning subsided at 4AM, and Jens started things off right by breaking out the breakfast of champions, in the form of one "Worthers Original" for each of us. No longer climbing inside a cloud provided a significant morale boost, and Sol thawed out our semi-functional cams with his mouth, once again establishing the value in being full of hot air. After a quick summit stop to revel in the sun, we headed to the Sherpa Glacier where soft snow allowed us to descend a few thousand feet back to the valley bottom in no time. With today being Sol's anniversary, he knew his wife would be especially nervous about our delayed return (and extra jealous of all the spooning enjoyed by Jens and myself). We hustled back to the car and enjoyed our true breakfast, the creek-stashed beers we'd left 30 hours before. EDIT: It turns out that Mark Makela and Geoff Sherer did some climbing on that wall in 1993 and put in the bolts, going up with full-on wall gear, and fixing ropes. They made it up what would be most of the pitches, using a mix of aid and free, but never completed the last few on wall. In any case, it's an amazing climb that should be on the list for future parties. Approach: Just north (around to the left) from the toe of the West Ridge, near Goat Pass. Route starts in the middle of the face, you can't miss that pitch. Gear Notes: Single Blue and Green Alien, 2x Yellow alien to #3 Camalot, single new #4 camalot. Set of nuts. TOPO: HUGE VERSION
  18. Trip: Mt. Stuart - Mixed Blessing (previously undocumented) Date: 5/24/2009 Trip Report: About five years ago, I made a trip in to the North Side of Mt Stuart at Memorial Day with Travis Hammond. The weather turned crappy, and we didn't climb anything, but we did observe three undocumented ice lines on the north face of the West Ridge between the Stuart Glacier Couloir and the NW Buttress Route. I've watched those lines each spring since then, and on a quick recon on May 2 this year, found them coming into perfect shape. Had to work harder than I expected to find a partner, (Shipman was working, Tarver in Alaska, Flick had family commitments, etc. blah-blah)but finally succeeded in recruiting Bill (Dobby) Dobbins for an attempt on the Holiday weekend. Dobby picked me up at my home in 11-worth at 0600 Saturday morning, for a suitably early start on the Stuart Lake trail, then in classic CFCC (if you don't know, you probably don't want to...) form, remembered two miles up the trail that he'd neglected to hang/display his parking permit before leaving the trailhead. So I got an hour nap while Dobby (remember this guy, like me,is in his mid-50s) jogged four miles down to the car and back in his Sportiva Nepals to prevent ticketage. We still managed to stagger to Stuart Lake before noon, although Dobby was actin' pretty whipped by then. Continued on snowshoes beyond the lake to the end of the meadow/swamps at the base of the Stuart Glacier moraines, where we elected to camp and get a good rest rather then try to hump our camping gear up the steep moraine to the glacier in the afternoon sloppy snow. An 0200 start Sunday morning yielded perfect neve for effortless cramponing up the moraine, and we gained the Stuart Glacier just as the morning brightened enough to turn off the headlamps. Of the three lines I'd observed two weeks earlier, two were mostly gone, but the center line still held a decent pillar of ice reaching to snowfields that access the crest of the West Ridge. We ate, drank, roped and racked and started on the pillar. Being the old, frail, lazy guys we are, we'd elected to bring only a single 60-meter half/twin rope, so we doubled it over for the first steep pitches, and limited ourselves to 30 meters between belays. Six pitches of stellar WI3 with the odd mixed move here and there brought us to the snowfields where we unfolded the rope and climbed five more 60-meter pitches to the crest of the NW Buttress where we had to decide whether to continue up the old route, or call it done and descend the NW Buttress with enough time to get all the way out that night. Being old and frail and lazy, and already intimately familiar with the summit, of course we bailed. Unfortunately, the Stuart Deity chose that time to become obstreperous. The lovely snow chute I had identified two weeks earlier, and planned to slide down on my behind, had melted out during those two weeks. We couldn't see far enough to be sure, but the top looked sorta rocky-ugly. We started downclimbing anyway. After several hours, we came to the "edge of the world" just as it was getting dark enough to pull the headlamps back out. Not being able to see past the edge, of course we rappeled. Then we rappeled again... And again... Six rappels later, we finally tagged the Stuart Glacier in pitch darkness - and stumbled on down to our tent, arriving at 1230. Ten hours up, twelve down. I suggest following parties simply rappel the route... As Dobby kept sayin: "Ahm tard!" to which I would respond "me too; does that make me re-tard?" Tard & Re-tard, twin alpine clowns... but we did git-er-done Summary: Mount Stuart, north side of West Ridge: "Mixed Blessing": IV, WI-3, M-0 Gear: one 60-meter half/twin rope; three stoppers from 1/4" to 3/4"; three hexes from 1" to 3"; six cams from 3/4" to 3.5"; one long, one medium, & one short ice screw; one knifeblade, one lost arrow, and two Leeper Z-pegs, eight alpine-style quickdraws, and about 60' of accessory cordage which was almost entirely gone by the end of the descent... and we used pretty much every piece at least once...
  19. Trip: Enchantments, The Flagpole FWA 2-7-2009 - The Flagpole Date: 2/8/2009 Trip Report: Saturday Kyle Flick and I climbed the Flagpole in amazing weather: Warm sun in the day, full moon at night that was our headlamp all the way back to Icicle Road. We started around 4:30am on skis at Bridge Creek Campground. The dirt patch near the start of the road is slowly getting bigger, but the road is still skiable from the trailhead down to that point. We skinned up to the Colchuck Lake turnoff and stashed the skis, since we knew the trail up to the lake is icy and totally not worth the skin nor the ski down. As it turned out, no where in the Enchantements is worth skiing at this point. Maybe in March? We had perfect cramponing up Asgaard, and across the upper plateau. No postholing whatsoever. We climbed Flagpole last Sprng, so we had the approach dialed in. We approached via the dry gully just West of Little Annapurna. By the time we reached the base of the climbing, 10 hours had elapsed. We knew when we started climbing at 2pm we would be deproaching in the dark, but with these perfect conditions we weren't in any hurry. Kyle led the first mixed pitch, easy terrain with a snow/ice ramp to a bush belay. On the second pitch, I threw on my rockshoes, and Ade's lucky legwarmers. The climbing was on warm rock free of any snow or ice, which brought us to the base of the Flagpole's bolt ladder. I clipped through the ladder, using my rivet hangers on the old bolts which don't accept carabiners of any size. The finishing 5.8 offwidth move takes a #5 (new size) camalot, followed by some easy but very exposed moves on the arete. Kyle lowered me off and clip cleaned the ladder. By the time he touched down, it was dusk. Having two ropes for the two raps is very useful. We slogged back out the gully and popped out onto the upper Enchantments in bright moonlight. We would not use the headlamps again until we got into the trees. I've skied the trail from the trail cutoff three times so far this season, and not once have I done it without the skins still on. It's total survival "skiing". We chatted with a couple poor souls walking the road, who had climbed the Colchuck's NBC, which looked okay by the way. There does appear to be a couple rock steps with no ice in it. However, they had no problems surmounting those. By 1:30am 21 hours after starting out, we staggered back to the car, vowing to never slog that road again until the f$@%er is melted out! Contrived mixed hike up Asgaard Pass. This can be easily avoided. The upper Enchantments. Looking South towards Mt. Rainier, Ingalls Creek. Descent down gully. The Flagpole and Pennant Peak On the approach. Kyle on the first mixed pitch. Me starting the second pitch, replete with Ade's lucky legwarmers. Starting the bold ladder. On top. Looking down from the top of the Flagpole. Kyle Flick photo. Looking East from the top of the Flagpole. Kyle Flick photo. Stuart in the sunset. Kyle Flick photo. Thanks to Ade Miller who let us use some critical gear, not least of which were the '80s era legwarmers, which have quite a bit of magic left in them.
  20. Trip: Leavenworth, Clem's Holler - White Bird, 1p, 5.6 FA Date: 5/14/2008 Climb: Clem's Holler, White Bird, 1p, 5.6 FA Date of Climb: 5/14/2008 Trip Report: I had been conscripted to work as hod carrier on a big David_W project. If I wanted to upgrade my station I had better learn to hand drill on lead. So, when on a training day at Clem's Holler the week before, I noticed the slab right of the route we were on, Boardwalk, I thought, "It's a Beautiful Day". It looked like a good candidate. David said, "There's your White Bird..." Sure enough, it was easy enough climbing to find good stances at the required spacing. I think it yielded a good addition to a day's outing for the beginning slab leader. Yes, you have to climb at least 5.9+ to get up to it, but perhaps the stronger leader can do that one. By CascadeOtto The second bolt saw the end of my old Forrest Mjolnir hammer. The epoxy gave way and the head flew off, first up the slab a ways, then reversing course past me, in surprise turning to horror, as I saw it bouncing directly down on David and Zack. They actually caught the magic thing! Fearsome no longer, it's another one for the box of memorabilia. David's trusty A5 hammer was a lot better. Heavier, better balanced, it cut my drilling time in half. Three more bolts for a total of five, past some groovy pockets and horizontal cracks, led me to the Boardwalk bolt anchor. Thanks to David_W and Zack Krupp, photo by David_W
  21. Trip: Sherpa Peak - Rilikpa (sw face), FA, 5.7/5.8 Date: 9/16/2008 Trip Report: How it got started… “While waiting at a rap station on the convoluted West Ridge route of Sherpa Peak about a month ago, I thought to myself “There has GOT to be a cleaner, direct way to climb this mountain from the south.” As I descended the West Ridge, I noticed a line of cracks, corners and flakes on what could be called the SW face of Sherpa Peak. I thought it looked like a much more aesthetic and enjoyable way up the mountain from the Ingalls Creek drainage. I brought the idea of the climb up with my buddy Ben Kunz (wbk), and he was stoked to give it a try.” – Tim, aka therunningdog Sherpa at sunrise from Longs Pass So Tim (therunningdog) and I climbed, what we are pretty sure, is a new line on Sherpa Peak. A relatively diligent study in the Beckey guide and Cascadeclimbers, and the lichen covered rock and cracks, along with a few breaking holds led us to claim this first ascent. Here’s the line we climbed (excuse the crappy quality of my line wrecking one of Scurlock’s great photos!): We left the trailhead at 6:10am on Tuesday morning, hauling ass up and down Long’s Pass, crossed Ingalls Creek, and were in the wide basin below Sherpa by 8am. After a quick water break, we started up through scrubby trees and boulders toward the climb. Tim on scoring the last available water on the approach! The approach is the same as per the WR, except that you take a right turn uphill of the obvious tower to the south of Sherpa. After the right turn, scramble up 150’ of easy class 3 then take a left turn and head up an easy gully a few hundred feet to the base of the route. We left a small cairn at the spot where we roped up. Shot from the gully I’ll summarize the climb for those not interested in the details. Basically, Tim and I both believe that this climb is way more fun than the typically climbed West Ridge. It’s a good, moderate climb on great rock (better than the W. Ridge) that takes you to summit via a ridge scramble or the choice to hit up great crack lines up the upper south face. If bothering to haul a rope up Sherpa and aren’t in a great rush, I’d recommend taking this line to the summit over the W. Ridge ascent. Another shot of the route Note that we took a half rope and doubled it over because we wanted to haul less weight up and over Longs Pass, etc.. so these pitches are 100ft or less. For the first pitch, we simul-climbed up blocky terrain - 4th and easy 5th class to a ledge where the face steepened. I won the game of roe-sham-boe, and so got to head up the first belayed pitch. Pitch 2 heads up relatively easy dihedral flanked with flakes mid fifth climbing up to base of the hand sized crack on the SW face. (5.5/5.6) Approx. 85ft. Pitch 3 goes straight up the crack, up the face for some interesting face moves up and into a small alcove at the base of chimney. This pitch is really fun and with a few ascents (or if Tim or I go back up there to clean it) will be super clean. Right now, there’s tad too much lichen in the crack. (5.7) Approx. 90 ft. Tim hanging in the alcove Pitch 4 poses some interesting, fun moves up a chimney past the overhanging chockstones. From there, I took a straight line up face and crack to the top of this tower (sweet finger crack at the top). One could easily climb around the tower once above the chimney, but I wanted more climbing. If one opts for the straight up/more climbing option, you get a sweet top out move onto the top of this tower. (5.7/5.8) Approx. 90ft. Tim pulling onto the top of the tower, Stuart in the background A short boulder (not exposed) downclimb puts you onto a ridge that takes you to the summit, but you are looking directly at this: From the top of the “south tower” there are several options. The easiest is to climb one more pitch, heading north, to the true summit. However, the south face of the true summit is riddled with interesting crack systems that enticed us…and this is where we headed. After a short downclimb from the south tower, Ben headed up a 5.10-ish looking off-width roof type pitch, but backed off when it became apparent that it would be impossible to protect with our #3 camalot (a #4 would have probably been sufficient). So, we ended up taking a line a bit further east, and headed up 3 more pitches to the summit ridge. The first two of these pitches were awesome 5.8-ish hand cracks, the second of which finished with an airy traverse to a belay. Once on the summit ridge, it was a short drop down to the north side of the mountain and back up to the true summit. Tim heading up a great hand crack – truly awesome granite! Me on the airy traverse Tim at the summit Gear Notes: Medium rack to 3" (4" if you want to do the overhanging wide crack on the upper south face).
  22. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Rock - FA: The Tempest Wall IV 5.10 A2 Date: 8/28/2008 Trip Report: In order to be a succesful climber in the Pacific Northwest you have to be able to adapt. Plans set in stone for weeks, even months, can be shut down at the last minute with alarming regularity; fickle cascade weather being the main culprit. Such was the case last week as the slowly increasing chance of precipitation crescendo'd at 4 in the afternoon with 100%. Our second attempt at a large north cascades project would have to be postponed, and we were back to the drawing board. Worse yet, blake could ditch me completely and head out on an extended trip amongst clearer horizons in the Idaho Sawtooths. The Enchantments were are best bet and i had to think fast. The Google chat box quickly filled with ideas for the range: Boving Route to Solid Gold, the Girth, Der Sportsman. Blake shut each one down. I was scrambling for ideas when he replied: new route on CBR? i saw a line to the right. It was on, and i was hyped. He claimed thin cracks through headwalls, aid for sure, so we brought the kit and caboodle. The approach was more comical than usual, quite cold, and a bit stormy. The first day we scoped things out, found a line, and fixed the first pitch. Blake threw down a mix of mostly free with a bit of aid, a badass heel-hook, and even placed a knifeblade while free climbing. Pitch 1: We went to bed that night a bit intimidated by our chosen line. The next day we woke up early to a brisk morning and numerous cups of coffee. I taught Blake how to jug on pitch 1: The weather was worse than the day before, clouds were blowing through, and we were being hit by intermittent mist and drizzle. At least we'd be dry under here: What really can i say about the roof. The lead felt like I was in a trance. Did it take me 20 minutes, or 2 hours? I had to stop at the base and ask myself if I really was going to do this. The problem being, enough gear to get me to where? In the end it worked out fine, and yes, I think it will go free, it's mostly gold camalots! Colchuck Reality Crack. Cilogear! Being that it was all the same size i had to backclean our two two's out the last half of the roof and then all the way up to the belay. I tagged them to Blake and he embarked on his first real aid pitch ever. Self-portrait of Blake enjoying a steep learning curve: We named the ledge atop the roof the "yin-yang ledge", and the next pitch which starts with the more moderate aspect of the roof crack, "The Lighter Side of the Moon." Fun free climbing up good dirty cracks. Blake starting out: Myself seconding: An easy 5th class pitch led us to the base of the headwall which began with akward free up a pillar then onto the face. It soon turned to aid up a series of dirty corners and roofs. I short fixed a couple belays when the ropedrag got bad or i needed gear. The finale involved an aesthetic set of triple cracks and brought me to a great stance ontop of the headwall. I was stoked to give up the lead up to this aid gumby: Actually Blake was doing a great job his first day out aid climbing and he pushed us on up the next pitch. Aid through a flare lead to a fun moderate corner crack and a slightly sketchy belay. Darkness fell as I seconded, and i quickly remedied Blake's nest with a solid angle that we fixed. We could tell we where near the top and we really wanted to be off the face. The day had been cold and long and we were getting pretty worked. Aid led up to a dirty wet corner, a heelhook mantle, then a short chimney put me on the ridge, "The Great Escape." I hooted and hollered and then Blake did too. Three simul pitches got us to top and the Tempest Wall was sent. A moderatly painful morning-after was tempered by the idyllic alpine ambience. The Tempest Wall With a scrub, everything but the roof will proabaly go free at 5.11-. I think the roof will go somewhere around 12c or so. It'll be one hell of a fight at the lip. Rack of doubles from black alien to .75, 3 #1's, 4-6 #2's, 2 #3's, a single #4, set of nuts, dbl set of rp's, few pins or not.
  23. Trip: Prusik Pk. - Solid Gold III 5.11a Date: 6/14/2008 Trip Report: Wanting to get as far away from the sherpa glacier as possible and equally motivated by this, and this, this past saturday, Dave Elder and I climbed Solid Gold on the south face of Prusik Pk. We'd have to agree with first ascencionest Wayne Wallace when he describes the route as a "masterpeice" as we were truly amazed by the flawless rock and splitter climbing. The topo was great and so was the rack. We didn't use the 1/4 incher at the first belay, and we didn't nail because we missed the last pitch entirely. I started up what I thought was 5.8 cracks that led to the perfect 5.11a corner, and, before I had a chance to second geuss myself, was soon cranking out a 10c "changing corners" style variation that topped out on the ridge. Though the new variation is rad (right of the 5.11 corner), anything described as perfect on this route is worth another go, and i'm sure it won't be long until i'm slogging out there again... Dave starting to feel the stoke: One hell of a crag, the impeccable south face: Holy crap, P1, the solid gold pitch: Here's looking back down at P1, fingers in a corner, bad ass: Myself seconding P2: Beginning P3, we easily linked P3 & 4: The P4 "changing corners" variation: Topped out on the west ridge: The really cool thing about this climb, is that its actually just the hardman sit-start for the classic west ridge: Insert monkey call here: BOOM! Gear Notes: Double set to #2, single #3. One rope. Approach Notes: Mostly snow free to upper snow lake
  24. Trip: Alpine Lakes - FA--"Bumbling Genius", Wedge Mountain 5.7R Date: 11/3/2007 Trip Report: I was in Leavenworth and was planning to climb with my friend Ben Hargrove. I had been thinking of doing Givler's Crack because it looks so spectacular, and some other climbs in that area, but when Ben suggested doing a second ascent of a route on Wedge Mountain, that sounded more interesting. After an hour drive we began the hike, which after about half an hour turned to a bushwhack across to the notch where we planned to gear up and leave our packs. Ben had forgotten to tell me that there wasn't actually a trail to or from his climb. I love bushwhacking about as much as I love early morning alarm clocks, but alarm clocks help me stay employed and bushwhacking gets you to good places. It was a beautiful day, so I forgave him. We reached the notch only to find a trail...after all that bushwhacking! We made note of it for the descent. We made our way to the face. We picked out an obvious ramp. Ben said he thought that it was our climb. We scrambled up 4th class rock to the start of the ramp, where I built an anchor. We reauxchambeauxed for first lead. I won but then Ben seemed really disappointed, so I relented and let him have the first lead. Here are links to some photos I put in the gallery. I couldn't figure out how to post them in the TR. If someone smart wants to follow the links and fix this post for me, be my guest!!! But please don't email me and explain how to do it, I already looked at the post in Newbies and it's just too complicated for me. Scenic! View of our route from the base. Go up the ramp and belay where the rock changes color, then traverse upwards and over to the flat ledgey thing you see to belay the second pitch. Pitches 3-5 are in the fog. Ben putting on his shoes. Check out the view! The first pitch was almost a full rope length and followed nice granite up a ramp, to a fun little crack and then some face moves, about 5.7 for the cruxes. Ben leading the rampy start of Pitch 1. At the first belay the rock changed from nice granite to some kind of crumbly, chossy gray rock that I decided was shale because of the way it peeled off in layers. I am not a geologist and I am probably wrong. At any rate, I ruefully took the sharp end and proceeded into a full ropelength of the scariest 5.6 face climbing I have ever done. I only found gear about every 30 feet and then I had to scrape off several layers of crappy rock with my nut tool to place a piece that I thought had any chance of holding at all. In addition my footholds had an eery way of coming detached when I tried to stand on them. I honestly felt more than once that at any moment the entire wall I was standing on and holding onto could become detached with me on it. As Ben yelled, "Rope ten feet" I neared a tree that looked like a good belay, and suddenly could move no further. My rope and gotten stuck in a crack below me! I had run out of long runners and hadn't been able to sling the rope loosely enough, so it was running tight over a block. I had been fighting rope drag and had had to pull out slack to move for the last 25 feet. I had wedged the rope into a crack near my cam, and now I was stuck. Fortunately the moves to the tree looked easy, although they went over some huge loose-looking blocks that I was very careful to avoid. I untied from my rope, placed a cam and tied the rope to it, then I soloed to the tree and anchored myself to it. Now safe, I went back down and built a good anchor for the rope, making it a fixed line for Ben to self-belay his way up with prusiks as he climbed and cleaned the pitch. Whew! This climb was getting pretty exciting in my opinion. When Ben reached the belay, I asked him what the rest of the route would be like. He said something along the lines of this not being the same route and he had made a mistake. Hmmm.... Looking down at "The Shale Pitch" Me very cold at the top of Pitch 2. I didn't know you could get screaming barfies in your feet! Looking up there continued to be a clear line and it appeared that it would go, at least as far as we could see. We decided to carry on--after all adventure was what we were after, and the only thing I had to look forward to on a retreat was lost gear and more bushwhacking! Ben led off Pitch 3 for a full ropelength over once-again beautiful granite up some face moves and into a cool corner/chimney, about 5.5. As I belayed Ben I took this photo and then my camera battery died, so I wasn't able to get pictures of the remainder of the route. Ben's rope up Pitch 3. I led Pitch 4 as the rock turned right up some optional face moves (5.7) and then headed up an easy ramp leading to some exposed moves and through a small roof (5.7). Fun!!! Be careful of large loose blocks. As Ben finished Pitch 4 it was getting dusky. He quickly led off Pitch 5, a full ropelength that traversed to the right and up through some fun moss-filled horizontal cracks/face moves and exited the route through a tree. Apparently someone thought I needed to work on my bushwhacking skills. (Actually, he was almost out of rope, and it was a safer bet. But you know, I can't let him get away with leading me through a tree without a little hassling.) We QUICKLY regrouped in the near-darkness and started hoofing it down the ridge. Be careful on the descent as there is another cliff band skier's left of where you get off the route. Traverse around the mountain to climber's right, above the cliffs, and you will find a game trail that leads down the ridge. Head down the ridge to the notch, and then find the tree-choked trail down to the fallen down cabin and onto the real trail. Doing this "trail" covered with blowdown, ice, and snow in my treadless shoes by my weak headlamp was a crux for me, but we made it back to Ben's car with only a couple minor falls on my part, and in no time were enjoying delicious porters! About the rating: Ben and I debated whether to give it an R or an X rating. There are some huge loose blocks up there, and if one did come loose and fall on the rope or your partner, it would be very very bad. But if you are careful, the climbing is pretty easy and there is enough gear to prevent a death fall, presuming it holds, which I think it would. But I can't recommend falling on this route. The route itself is actually pretty fun, an alpine feeling climb with a relatively short approach, under 2 hours, and the scenery is amazing. Two stars. Thanks, Ben, for the great adventure! We'll have to find some more chosspiles to climb in the near future! Gear Notes: 60 m rope (50m won't make it to good, solid belays) gear to 3" nut tool for scraping moss and choss nuts not necessary Approach Notes: Take the rutted back road up to Wedge Mountain from Blewett Pass. Bear left at all intersections. High clearance vehicle or good driving skills recommended. Go up the hiking trail. Go left at the intersection. At the fallen down cabin head uphill following a trail that is often obscured by blow-down, until you gain the notch. Bushwhack down past the first wall to the second wall. The route starts at the base of the most obvious granite ramp which can be gained via fourth class moves.
  25. A few days ago, Kurt Buchwald and I (Martin) climbed a route on the North Face of Chair Peak that I have not been able to find any beta on. It is basically a direct line from the summit proper to the base of the North Face. It is a 5 pitch route, goes at 5.9 and has surprisingly good rock quality. It is in parts the same rock (Snoqualmie Batholith) that you see in the standard descent rap couloir (not to be confused with the loose surface garbage that is laying around in the couloir). We felt it was a good line, worth the trouble and could up the appeal of Chair Peak. A more indepth trip report of the route can be viewed at http://www.proguiding.com/tripreport/view/chair-peak-north-face-direct We are looking for input from y'all to see if this route had been done before. At any rate, we can recommend it. Certainly harder than the NE Buttress, but also way higher quality. The fact that it basically goes straight to the top is nice. Cheers. M
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