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  1. Trip: Chair Pk - NW Ridge Trip Date: 02/11/2018 Trip Report: More fun in winter I thought, especially with the amazing conditions. More alpine ice well adhered to the rock than I've ever seen in the Snoq area, neve even! Don, my long time climbing partner, and I had a blast in this puppy yesterday. The last 10' of the first pitch gaining the ridge was a good opener. The second pitch we traversed on the south side of the ridge up to a small notch with a chockstone, then up a short runout slab then a downward traverse to a small tree belay on the right. The third pitch went straight up to a steep hard (for me anyway) chimney topping out on the crest. Fantastic hooking! Running belay along the sharp crest and on to the top. I hope folks got out and got some in these incredible conditions! Left side of N face (yep, that's all good alpine ice and neve!): N Face route: 1st pitch top out: Don on runout slab (red dot), belay tree barely visible down and right: 3rd pitch: Looking down 3rd pitch top out: Running belay toward top: Gear Notes: Rock rack, no pins or screws needed Approach Notes: Casual, no floatation needed/wanted
  2. Climb: White Chuck - East Face Couloir Date of Climb: 2/27/2005 Trip Report: Look at the pics then read Justins post "A Message from Necronomicon:" a little further down the page. It's far better than my slop In the beginning of February, when Dave Brannon and I were finishing up the Northeast Ridge, it became readily apparent that the east face of White Chuck was big, steep and split by a very deep coulior. With a little help from John Scurlock I managed to get an excellent photo of the east face. Ummmm....that looks good. Gene Pires, Justin Thibault and I climbed the route on our second attempt on February 27th. First climbed in September 1970 by Ron Miller and Ben Guydelkon, it had all the making of an un-classic. The CAG admonishes, "best climbed in late summer when dry", "scare protection" and "hard hat recommended". In a veil of ice and neve we figured it might be a very good climb. On the first attempt too much new snow and too little time turned us around before we even saw the face. Though the weather had become unseasonably warm we returned over the weekend to try again. On Saturday morning Justin managed to coax his truck up to 3100’ on FSR 2435. From there we slogged up logging roads and a scenic wooded ridge reaching the basin below the south side of the peak in the late afternoon. At around 5000’ temps in the shade hovered around forty degrees. But north-facing slopes still held fine powder snow giving me some sweet turns, and us hope for decent conditions in the shady couloir. Justin and I passed out in the sun while Gene summoned the energy to pack down part of the approach for the following morning. Just before sunset John Scurlock made a serious of terrifyingly fast and tight circles around the peak in his yellow rocket plane. Sunday we left camp at 4 AM and traversed up to a “chair-like” pinnacle on the southeast ridge of the peak. We dropped down a very steep ramp to the base of the face and began a long, miserable traverse through breakable crust. At first the route appeared to start with a blank rock wall. As we ascended the debris cone at its base a beautiful ice-choked chimney appeared, leading up to the left. Starting up the first pitch Ultimately the climb was far better than we could have imagined. With occasional simu-climbing we broke the climb into seven long pitches, the last ending forty feet from the summit. Two pitches in the middle consisted of steep neve. The other five were primarily beautiful runnels of water ice sometimes no more than 1’ wide. While a majority of the climbing was WI3 or easier the second pitch had a difficult crux of vertical and rotten snow covering thinly iced chockstones with hard-fought protection that felt pretty serious. All photos by Justin Thibault. Below the long, beautiful runnel of pitch 3 Leading off for the summit Descending the Northwest Ridge One of the boyz below P6 We topped out maybe eight hours after starting the climb and took a long rest before beginning the exposed and tedious descent back to camp. Justin, Gene and I all felt that this route was quite classic and deserving of repeats. During a normal snow year there would likely be more wallowing, less ice and a big cornice to surmount at the top. We thought a fair rating in current conditions was WI3 mixed 5.8 R. Gear Notes: Plenty of screws Pickets Pins - KB to Baby Angle small rack to 2.5”
  3. Trip: Lincoln Peak - Wilkes-Booth Route (NW Face) Grade 4+ AI4+ Date: 3/13/2015 Trip Report: Lincoln Peak Wilkes-Booth Route (NW Face) AI4+ Grade 4+ ~2000 ft. FA- M. Rynkiewicz, D. Coltrane 3/13/2015 Michal Rynkiewicz and I climbed the NW face of Lincoln peak via a combination of glacial, alpine, and water ice, with steep snow fields and amazing ridge traversing mixed in. I was inspired to climb this route by a 2010 TR of Assassin Spire by the phenomenal Cascade hardman Tom Sjolseth. His trip report included a few choice picture of the NW face of Lincoln with big inspiring flows that would possibly lead to the summit of Lincoln. Given that and the great snow conditions we have been having this year I didn't really have a choice but to go out and give it a try. We were a little concerned with the warm temps and recent snow, but upon views of the start we couldn't resist. We climbed the route in a single push from the Heliotrope ridge trailhead ascending the NW face and descending the SW face (Standard) route. It was a big day and one of the most amazing routes I have had a chance to climb in the Cascades. I feel very fortunate to be blessed with outstanding partners and to be allowed passage by this amazing mountain. Sunrise on the Sisters Looking at first pitch on Descent. This is the same start as for Assassin Spire and the route shares the lower portion with Shooting Gallery until you get to the upper Ampitheatre. Starting up the first pitch. The upper half of this pitch is the crux with poorly protected overhanging ice of dubious quality. looking down at the overhanging glacier while cruising up through the first snow field. Vertical ice curtain headed up to the glacier. Michal climbing the glacier to gain the upper amphitheater. This was a fun step of glacial ice with good protection. First views of the ampitheatre. We climbed the obvious flow in the middle. It was about 120m of amazing WI3+ plastic ice like I have never seen in the Cascades. We climbed it in two long pitches. There are other climbs to be had along the face. Climbers right is a slightly easier variation that would traverse in to the main flow, and climbers left the gully would probably go with a bit of shenanigans at the top. Setting up an anchor for the first pitch. Michal Starting out the first pitch, this pitch was a full 70 meters with a little simuling on 60m ropes. this was the harder of the two pitches with a few vertical step of ice that had good features. So Much Ice! Starting out the second pitch. This was the easier of the two with one short 85 deg. section at the start and about 50m to the top of the flow. Cruising the upper snow field with the amphitheater below. Amazing ridge climbing along bomber snow and rime. Assassin Spire is the rocky spire down and right. Navigating the upper ridge to the first sub summit. From here we had to downclimb a short portion of rime ice to get to the last pitch to the summit. Looking back at the downclimb section. Such amazing position. Michal Working his way up the last technical pitch to the summit. Looking up the gulley to the summit. This was another full 60m pitch, but relatively easy. Summit Selfie! All that was left was getting off #2 on the hardest peaks in Washington. Just downclimb 2000 ft of steep snow... Out of the danger zone and glad to be heading back. From here we traversed back along the north side of the peak to Heliotrope ridge. Thanks again to my amazing partner for the commitment, and strength to get this huge climb done. Special thanks to The Tom Sjolseth for getting after it and sharing the stoke! I would have never known this was an option without his beta. Daniel Coltrane Gear Notes: 9 screws, 3 pickets, small rack to 2", set of Nuts, and small set of pins, 60m rope Mostly used screws and pickets. Approach Notes: Approached from Heliotrope ridge across the lower portion of the Thunder Glacier.
  4. Climb: Mount Outram-Ghost Passenger (FA/FWA East Face) Date of Climb: 3/12/2005 Trip Report: I have been scheming to climb the East Face of Outram for a couple of years now. The large, gullied face is hard to see from most roads but you can get glimpses from some other peaks, and the view from Snass (Justin Brown has some awesome shots on bivouac.com) is quite impressive. In August 2003 Fred Touche and I hiked up the standard route on Outram and I took a look see down the face and deemed it possible. In 2004 Merran and I hiked in in May planning to go up the standard route, drop down a gully at the S end of the e face and climb back out up another gully. However this approach, due to weather and also the fact that all the gullies are too steep to be comfortable descents, failed and we ended up bagging the standard route once again. I know Justin and Jordan also made one attempt and had the same problem. For 2005 I decided to head in via the old Ghost Pass trail and up the creek draining the east face. I gleaned some beta on this approach from the usual online sources and prepared for windfall and thrashing. The nice descent down the standard route means the best climbing choice is to carry over bivi gear and I packed accordingly. No stove, cold food, two tools, crampons, a few jacket layers, a -7C sleeping bag for a possible long night bivi and a 3/4 length z-rest. I parked at the wooden marmot around 12:30 on Saturday and started hiking the Ghost pass trail. this leaves the old Engineers' Road about 2 km east of the Outram Trail and cuts over the ridge into the valley of Eighteen Mile Creek. The trail was overgrown and had lots of windfall but wasn't as hard to follow as I had feared it would be. After about three hours of hiking I left the trail and cut up an obvious side valley towards Outram. By the time I reached treeline it was getting near dark and I was tired. There were lots of possible lines so I elected to bivi overnight and make an early start instead of picking one line and giving it by headlamp Fred Touche style. There were no real flat spots to bivi not covered in wet snow but I found a good hollow in the ground, filled it in with dead branches and laid the z-rest down on that; it was quite comfortable. For some reason all I could think of all night long was zombie movies and wild animals. I had found fresh cougar tracks not far from my bivi site when approaching and kept waking up in the night in a state of mild panic whenever the wind blew through the trees. Around 5 AM I got up, packed my bivi up and got out of the trees onto the approach slopes to the east face. The face is a very large one with numerous gullies, and is composed of a long face on the SE ridge, and a higher face directly below the summit, in a bit of a cirque. Because of the slanting valley and ridge slopes pretty much all the options on the face are about 400 to 500m high and there are at least a dozen unclimbed gullies here, They pretty much all had a mix of ice and snow in them too. It was hard to make a decision but I ended up heading up to the headwall, mostly because I couldn't see it from lower in the valley and didnt want to pick a good looking line only to find out that the headwall had better lines that I couldn't see. East face at sunrise from treeline near bivi Unclimbed gully with WI3? step Narrow and potentially mixed unclimbed couloir line. When I got up into the east face bowl there were three options... a shady, scary looking couloir and chimney line with chockstones on the left, an open face with a couple of vertical water ice steps in the middle, and a slanting line on the right. The slanting line looked the easiest and had the smallest cornices above it so that was what I chose. It had one narrow kink but most of it looked like snow climbing. East face headwall. Arrow marks line climbed. NS and SS are north and south summits (I had no idea where the summits were when I took the photo). Details might be too small to see in thumbnail, in that case check the gallery. I climbed up into the couloir and the climbing turned out to be awesome with well-frozen neve and little bits of ice where seepages from the sidewalls came in. It was mostly 45 degree climbing with short steeper steps. There was a constant flow of 'hail' on the gully bed as ice fell off the sidewalls and broke up, but almost nothing larger than golf ball size...only two fist size chunks came down and both of them bounced well clear of me. Looking up the gully from near the bottom. I was not climbing too fast and I was also worried about the cornices. The climbing was fun but I wasn't enjoying it much. I came around a corner into the kink I had seen from below and found a 25m step of 70 degree WI3. After climbing this I got above most of the falling ice and the snow relented to 45 degrees again. A few hundred meters higher I got close to the ridge exit and came very close to a big looming house sized cornice. Fortunately the cornice line was not continuous. I picked a line up to where the lip was amost non existant, and although the angle steepened through 50 to almost 65 degrees (tools over head) the exit move was only vertical for less than a bodylength. I pulled onto the ridge to find I was exactly half way between the two summits, which was the point I had been aiming for, but did not know I was about to arrive at. Also, the ridge between the two summits, which is Class 2-3 rock in summer, and that I had thought might be scary and double-corniced, was pretty much a broad easy walk. Almost immediately on topping out my fear went away and I felt a great sense of happiness and relaxation. Tracks on the ridge with north summit behind. By the time I got to south summit it was probably 11:00 or 11:30 AM. I drank the last of my water, ate some PowerGels and took a few photos before starting to descend. Rideout and Payne - Sumallo Valley Mt. Grant, Eaton Peak and Cheam Range behind. The uppermost slopes were pretty wind-blown and icy, then as I went lower the snow softened and the temperature rose. I shed crampons and layers as I descended and even got in some good glissading. It is a very long way back down to the highway (almost 2000m) which I reached around 2:30 for a car-to-car time of 26 hours or so. Obviously that includes a 12 hour bivi and so theoretically a day trip is doable, but if I did it again I would still biv in order to get good early morning snow conditions. The approach is not onerous but does take about 5 hours all told. Since there are so many other unclimbed lines on the face I decided to give the climb a name to distinguish it from other routes that will later be done. I ended up calling it "Ghost Passenger" since the approach is via the Ghost Pass trail and because I was somewhat scared for a lot of the climb. The overall difficulty is probably Grade III, Alpine Grade AD+, WI3 and snow to 65 degrees. The climbing felt quite similar to Central Couloir on Joffre, not as sustained and no rockclimbing exit but with a slightly harder crux than existed the one time I climbed CC on Joffre. Gear Notes: 4 screws, 2 pickets and 2 pins would be an adequate rack for a party of two. Approach Notes: Via Ghost Pass trail, 4-5 hours in. Plan on taking bivi gear up and over. Food notes: In 26 hours I ate 5 powergels, 1 halvah bar, one chocolate bar, a couple of fruitleathers, and a sesame snap packet. I think this is the least amount of food I have ever eaten on an overnight trip. Certainly for most of the climb I did not want to eat at all. I'm still not very hungry. it is possible thatt if I had eaten more and had higher blood sugar levels I might not have felt so scared, I have noticed before that I start to get spooked sometimes when climbing and not eating.
  5. Trip: Mt Huntington - French (NW) Ridge (FWA) Date: 3/1/2014 Trip Report: Summary: On March 1st, Brad Farra (Portland, OR), Jason Stuckey (Fairbanks, Alaska) and I, John Frieh (Portland, OR), flew from Talkeetna to the Tokositna Glacier (~8600') below the west face of Mt. Huntington. We skipped establishing a base camp and instead immediately started climbing the French (NW) ridge, reaching an elevation of ~10,500' before bivying for the night. On March 2nd we started climbing around 8 am and reached the summit of Mt. Huntington just under 16 hours later around 11:30 pm. Due to the late summit we enjoyed a second bivy just below the summit at >12,000 feet. Six hours later we defrosted ourselves with mass quantities of coffee before beginning a descent of the West Face Couloir (Nettle-Quirk) around 9 am. As Jason and I had climbed and descended the WFC in the winter of 2011 we were able to move quickly down the route and reached landing zone around 3 pm on March 3rd, making for ~51 hours on route. I believe this was the first winter ascent of the French Ridge of Mt Huntington during the winter season and the third overall winter ascent to date. Bob Butterfield's photo of the French Ridge (sun/shadow line): Brad on route; Jason Stuckey photo: Itinerary: Feb 28/March 1: PDX -> ANC -> Talkeetna March 1: Paul/TAT flew us to the East Fork of the Tokostina Glacier (~12 pm). Climbed to ~10,500' March 2: Mt Huntington summit March 3: Descent via the WFC; evening pick up Back story: I would be willing to bet most would agree Mount Huntington is a beautiful mountain. Classic lines, big faces, no "easy" way to the summit... dig out Alpinist 20 for a sweet mountain profile. For no particular reason the French ridge has always appealed to me... part aesthetics, part history (Lionel Terray!), and part commitment (you can't exactly bail off the route easily if conditions change). I knew the amount of snow and the size of the cornices would determine how quickly one could climb the ridge (if not summit at all) so I started considering the French ridge as either a fall climb or a late winter/early spring climb in hopes of finding ideal conditions. My thought was if one timed it just right this would be the best time to encounter minimal slogging and more importantly minimal cornices. I almost attempted it a few times over the last few years but something always prevented me from trying or a different line in the range looked better. Finally it all came together so we went for it... and it just so happened to be winter. That is to say I wasn't intent on making the FWA; I just wanted to climb it. This trip likely would never have happened if it not for the excellent beta that Paul Roderick of Talkeetna Air Taxi provided on conditions. Best pilot and best flight service in Alaska. Also Mark Westman has been an excellent source of AK beta for me over the years; I know I asked him for his opinion of my Huntington idea more than once. Pictures: Early on climbing to get onto the ridge top: Almost on the ridge: First bivy: Second day sun: Early on second day: Getting closer... but not that close: Gear Notes: Light is Right! Petzl Quarks + Vasaks, new Arcteryx FL 45 liter pack (so sweet!), coffee Approach Notes: Talkeetna Air Taxi
  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: Three Fingers - Northeast Face (FA); FWA North Peak Date: 2/3/2007 Summary: First Ascent of the Northeast Face Three Fingers WI4+, M3 Grade IV. Feb 3rd 2007 Dave Burdick and John Frieh We believe this was the FWA of the North Peak of Three Fingers by any route. Also... we both wanted to make sure and tag the high point which prior to today we both thought was the south summit. By the time we reached the top of the ice the weather was already crapping out so we hit the North peak instead (which I think most would agree is the more aesthetic finish to the route). Dave checked today and according to Beckey's book the North peak has been the true summit since 1931 as in 31 they blasted 15 feet off the south peak, thus making it lower so we did the highest summit by accident I guess!?!? Hopefully someone can provide some further insight on either one of these... Northeast Face of Three Fingers courtesy of the great John Scurlock: topo (dots mark approximate belays): Conditions the week prior (taken jan 28th): Quick note for the newbs: Comparing John Scurlock's photo (top pic) with the conditions last week photo is a great illustration of how foreshortening works. blah blah blah: Ummm... where to start? Dave, Micah and Keith attempted this line some time last year (2006) but a combination of factors (deep snow, later start, etc) resulted in them coming up short... Jump forward a year. Dave, Pax, Keith and myself hiked in last Sat Jan 27th. With a little work we managed to get to the trailhead. WA state representatives: We hiked in and camped in the valley below the face at the last available running water. Dave and myself headed up the following morning... we had just gained the glacier when a healthy avy came down near the entrance to the couloir... we took a vote and bailed. On the hike down Dave and I joked about the bad luck the two of us have had with avyies (we've bagged a few attempts in the years due to avy) and this came out of it (Alpinedave's excellent artwork): Stay tuned for Volume 2! Never the less as bad as it sucks to get skunked we agreed we needed to come back before this weather window expired (which according to NOAA was roughly noon on Saturday) as the route looked to be in great shape. So Saturday it was! We left the car at 2 on Saturday and made good time to the face thanks in part to the boot pack we had installed the weekend prior and a full moon to light our way: We managed to find the access couloir that gains the glacier with relative ease and traversed over to the start of the route. We started the NE face couloir about first light. Dave fired through the initial step (a wee bit of 3/3+) and when the rope ran we began simuling. We covered approximately 1000' of mostly neve mixed with patches of ice and snow before arriving at the ice step. Dave on the initial step that starts the couloir: Lower couloir: So the ice... 600' of fat ice as blue as your balls are going to be after you look at the pics Pitch 1: Pitch 2: Looking down from the top of 2: Pitch 3: Pitch 1 was solid 4+... I could see it easily being a 5 in thinner conditions. Pitch 2 was 3+ and Pitch 3 was a 4. All 3 pitches were 60 m in length minimum (we climbed on a 70 m). From the top of the ice step we simul slogged for the north summit. To The Top! We encountered a short mixed step followed by a ramp that put us on top The mixed step: The ramp: Dave on top So we had topped the ice around noon and it started lightly snowing at 12:05 (why is it that NOAA is always right when ever you hope they are wrong ). We summited the north peak at 1:30 and by this time it was a healthy snowfall... we took a quick snack break and headed for home. Marco Polo on the descent: We wasted some time finding the access couloir that connects the glacier to the valley floor but we managed to find it before dark and followed our boot pack out and headed to Darrington for burritos at the Shell Station Gear Notes: 11 screws 1 picket (used a few times) Rock gear we brought: 4 cams to #2 camalot 7 nuts Rock gear we used: .75 and #1 camalot few nuts (larger size) Dave would likely recommend 1 set of ear plugs for this route or for that matter any route you climb with me ... 2 sets if I have dehydrated food for dinner Approach Notes: Darrington Music Notes Pete Murray, Bloc Party
  8. 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.
  9. Trip: Dragontail - Chasing the Dragon Part 2 - Backbone Ridge, FWA Date: 1/16/2009 Trip Report: Here's the TR and some pictures. You can find even more pictures in my gallery here. When John Plotz emailed me last weekend completely convinced that conditions on Dragontail’s Backbone Ridge were going to be perfect I have to say I was skeptical. Previous experience told me the Colchuck Lake basin was bitterly cold most of the winter. But local knowledge is local knowledge and it’s not like I had anything else planned for the end of the week. So… Thursday morning found me standing at the Eight Mile trailhead waiting or John and Kyle to arrive so we could ski into the lake. If winter climbing in the Cascades demands nothing else it demands optimism. We skied up the road in the cold fog convinced warmer air lay above the inversion. Kyle had originally planned to accompany us to the trailhead and possibly further but a fall the previous week had left him with a back injury and he wished us luck and turned back shortly after we left the cars. John and I continued skinning up the trail. The previous week’s rain had reduced the snow cover and it was mostly easy going all the way to the lake. Either that or my skinning has improved which doesn’t seem that likely. At the lake we retrieved a cached rope and some large cams and pitched a tent on the edge of the ice. We planned to climb the route in a single day figuring we might be able to rappel from the base of the Fin into the top of the Triple Couloirs route and climb that for a quick finish if darkness looked like it was going to overtake us. Being benighted would not be fun. An early start was in order… John gearing up at the base of the route. The following morning John and I left the tent just before six and hiked the twelve hundred or so feet up from the lake up to the base of the route at 6,800’. The snow was really well consolidated so we made really good going and reached the base by around dawn just after seven. We geared up on the moraine and I set off to the start of the route. In winter the lower part of the route climbs a shallow gully and then traverses easy angled snow slopes first left and then back right to the base of the 5.6 corner a pitch below the off-width. We simul-climbed the snow to the corner using trees as belays. Soft snow made it seem like hard work but at least it was really easy climbing. There are actually two obvious corners below the off-width, in winter the left hand one looks to be the better option. It had less ice than on my previous attempt a few years ago with Alasdair. The snow ended in a short ice smear up the base of the corner. We drytooled and then rock climbed the corner to the obvious tree anchor. Probably at about M4 or so – because every Cascades route seems to get M4 these days. John following the last of the snow above the mixed corner. We put away the boots, crampons and ice tools and put on rock shoes and, in my case, attractive 80s style leg warmers. The warm temps and rock shoes allowed John to make short work of the pitch Alasdair and I had spent ages aiding on our last attempt. Heavy packs made the first 5.6 moves feel like hard work though. By 9:30 we we at the base of the off-width corner which had some snow deep in the crack but was pretty much dry. We broke out the aiders and big green Camalot. I was worried the corner might really slow us down but a combination of aid, French free and free climbing soon had me hauling packs and John following the corner. The wall above looked largely free of snow. John belaying the off-width. We were able to free climb the 5.8 pitches above the off-width to gain easier ground on the ridge crest below the Fin. We simul-climbed the forth class pitches to the base of the Fin. All really fun climbing without much of the unpleasantness usually associated with winter climbing. In fact other than the overly heavy packs, it was all starting to seem a bit too easy. Leading the 5.8 pitches above the off-width. Very dry conditions. From the base of the Fin we could see directly into the upper of the Triple couloirs. Like everything else on the face snow cover was thin. As we were watching a TV sized block came bouncing down the gully dislodging other rocks and taking them into the lower couloir. This made our cunning escape plan seem a whole lot less cunning. John led the first pitch up from the base of the Fin across the ledges. Which is where Dragontail started to bite back. There was a lot more verglass on the slabs and icing in the cracks than we’d found lower down making the climbing somewhat harder and hard to protect. John did a great job of making it to the belay ledge in the middle of the Fin without being able to get much gear. Working up towards the ledge belay on the Fin. I led a short pitch up the face but was stopped as grove above me was filled with snow. Further up the remainder of the crack system was completely iced in and not in a fun mixed sort of way. I belayed John up to our high point and we examined our options. These seemed somewhat limited given that we are over a dozen pitches up the route and our bailout option of the Triple Couloirs looking very unattractive. Other than the groove leading right there was another set of cracks to the left. I remembered a topo showing the left hand variation so we opted to give it a go, neither of us actually having done it before in summer. It seemed like the only, and therefore best plan. John starting the left hand variation on the Fin. John headed up the first series of cracks to a great belay at the start of a rightwards traversing rack system. While the cracks weren’t iced in you definitely had to be careful where you put your hands and feet as there was much more icing than lower on the route. I climbed the cracks right and ended up in an obvious notch in the crest of the fin and belayed John up. We were rewarded with a fantastic position and amazing view of the surrounding peaks and the lake far below. On the minus side the sun was starting to set over Colchuck and it was getting cold. The Fin traverse. OK. So it's now cold. I’d been to the notch before in summer while exploring another variation – usually called “being off route” - and vaguely remember a loose ledge system on the back side of the fin. The ledges led to another notch, onto the front of the Fin and then ultimately to the summit. Of course in winter this turned out to be covered in either ice or soft snow. We quickly changed out of rock shoes and into boots. It was now past 4pm and darkness would be on us in under an hour. John doing the business on the final section of ridge. The traverse was slow going with many loose blocks waiting for the unwary. After a little aid and a lot of cursing we regained the ridge crest just as it got truly dark. Rather than continue traversing the summer route’s iced in ledge system we opted to put rock shoes back on and simul-climb the crest of the rock ridge. I belayed in the dark as John grunted up another easy (in summer, in daylight) off-width to the ridge crest and continued along it. He ran out of gear just below the summit. I followed the cracks - more swearing and grunting - and finished off the final fifty feet of mixed rock and snow gaining the top just after 6pm (total time on route about eleven hours). I know what you're thinking. We did NOT stop to take drugs on the summit. It just looks that way. We took a few photos and headed down. The descent was straightforward except for a short section of scree at the top of Asgard Pass we were able to plunge step most of the way to the tent for a round trip time of about fourteen hours. Next morning we left camp early the and John skied and I slid down the the trailhead. Yes, there is a difference. How anyone can ski with a forty pound pack on is beyond me, I half expected John to rail slide the handrails on the bridges over the creek. Either way we made it to the trailhead were we were met by Kyle. We swapped stories and then skied down the road to the cars. John skiing out across the lake. By 2pm I was waiting in Starbucks in Leavenworth with the other sheeple trying to get a coffee for the drive home. A full value trip and the weekend wasn’t even half over with. Thanks to... This has been a project of mine for the best part of five years since climbing the Serpentine Ridge in winter with Alasdair Turner in 2005. Numerous winter attempts with Alasdair, including one that failed above the off-width, and several summer rehearsals with Forrest, Justin and John and Kyle Flick all contributed to being able to make the most of the weather this time and get it done. Thanks to everyone who’s tried this route with me – summer or winter – and especially John for watching the weather and being an excellent partner for the trip. Summary First Winter Ascent of the Backbone Ridge (Weigelt-Bonneville, 1970) with Fin Direct left hand variation (Anderson-Brugger, 1974). Ade Miller and John Plotz, Jan 16th 2009 (2000’, 5.9 A1 mixed). The route follows the summer line climbing easy snow to the base of the 5.6 corner. Climb the corner system (mixed) to a tree (possible belay) and continue up rock to the base of the offwidth. The the route to the Fin crest is as described in Beckey. On reaching the crest traverse the south side of the Fin on loose icy ledges (mixed, one pt. aid) to regain the crest at an obvious notch. We avoided further ledge systems on the north side of by climbing up to the crest and traversing towards the summit. Gear Notes: Full rock rack to #6 Camalot with some doubles in the mid-sizes. Pins (KBs and Angles) not used. Ice tools and crampons required, we took one heavy set for the leader and a light weight set for the second. Double ropes increase your options should you have to bail. Approach Notes: Ski or snowshoe from the Icicle road. Good trail to lake. See Colchuck Lake conditions thread for more details.
  10. Trip: Mt. Huntington - Nettle-Quirk Date: 3/12/2007 Trip Report: On March 10th, Jed Brown (Fairbanks, Alaska) and I flew from Talkeetna to the Tokositna Glacier below Mt. Huntington. On March 12th we climbed to the summit of Mt. Huntington via the West Face Couloir (Nettle-Quirk), and descended via the same route, in just under 15 hours roundtrip. We believe this might have been the first ascent of Huntington during the winter season. Although many teams descend from the top of the ice ramp, we found it to only be half-way to the summit, in terms of time and effort. Conditions and weather were excellent, although the temperatures were quite cold; we both frostnipped a few digits. After a few days contemplating other objectives, we gave in to the cold nights and flew out of the range on March 16th. A few lessons learned: -bring two pee bottles instead of one -bring mittens that you can actually do technical climbing in -bring a face mask that covers your nose -bring a sleeping bag rated to -30F instead of -10F -bring a larger than 2-person tent to basecamp -bring a thermarest to basecamp -muffins are very difficult to bite at -20F -bring basecamp down booties -don't go to Alaska before April!
  11. Climb: When Triumph Feels Like Failure -NE ridge FWA Date of Climb: 2/26/2005 Trip Report: [pictures will come later] I had a hot date planned for Sunday night; super cool girl. We’d been out a couple times before, and I was really looking forward to seeing her again. She was going to return on Sunday from the ski vacation she’d been on in Steamboat with her family all week. Then Colin called. When Colin calls, it means only one thing – weekend plans ruined. What was it this time? The NE ridge of Triumph hasn’t been climbed yet in the winter? And yeah, the weather forecast is perfect, and yeah, the ski season sucks and my season pass at Crystal is a sunk cost, and yeah, Triumph has been on my list for a long time (I made one attempt several years ago but got turned back by rain). But I have a date! I gave in. I told Colin we could go, as long as we make it back to Seattle by 8:00 pm on Sunday night. I convinced myself it was possible… the moon was nearly full, so we could conceivably climb a lot at night. Colin said we could drive all the way to the trailhead. And he’s fast. I made a schedule in my head… Wake up at 1:00 am, summit by noon, back to camp by 3:00 pm, back to the car by 5:30, then back to Seattle by 8:00. Ambitious? You think? Anyone else? Can we get a consensus here? No? I emailed said super cool girl in Steamboat. I sent her a link to the summertime route description and my planned schedule. I assured her everything would work out… and she assured me that I should definitely go for it. I met Colin at the Ravenna Park & Ride at 5:00 on Saturday morning, and decided to take my car because it has a CD player and Colin really wanted to listen to some political rap. There was some snow in places on the road to the trailhead, but by that time the music had changed to Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson so we got through it fine. Colin realized he’d forgotten his sunglasses, but fortunately I had a pair of way rad purple reflective jobbies I could loan him… wearing those, he was unstoppable; even more than usual I mean. We left the car at about 8:00 am. The only people who had been up the trail recently had been on skis; we could see the remnants of ski tracks where there was snow, but certainly now there’s no way to make it all the way with skis on. Typical of late February days in the Cascades, it got hot very quickly and we had to strip down. For those keeping track of snowpack, after the 2-mile section of flat overgrown-road trail (which still had some snow in shady places), we didn’t hit snow again for another mile up the switchbacks, and snowshoes were still impractical until a mere 500 vertical feet below the ridgeline. We thrashed up a steep & deep hillside (must have been off trail there) to the ridge, then thrashed down a steeper and deeper hillside to the lower Thornton lake (off trail there too for sure). The Thornton lakes were frozen over, but the lower one definitely looked thin in places… We went for it anyway though, just ‘cause it’s such a pain in the ass to go around, and accomplished the transit with ease and without incident. By the time we got to the upper lake, it was so hot… We were standing there in the middle of a frozen lake, our shirts off, waves of heat coming off our foreheads, eating Clif bars, wearing way rad sunglasses. The hump up to “the col” (or alternatively “the notch”) had patchy snow, but the glacier beyond “the notch” (or alternatively “the col”) had snow aplenty, and we were very glad to have our snowshoes there. We found a flat spot on top of what probably would have been a cavernous crevasse in the summer, not too far below the approach gully for the NE ridge, and set up our camp there. We stomped around with vigor to make a tent site as flat and level as a billiards table. It was 3:30. Time to eat dinner & hit the sack! I lobbied hard for the 1:00 wake-up time. Colin lobbied hard for 4:00. I whined “But I have a date tomorrow night! If I’m late you’ll be sorry!” Colin said “No, you’ll be sorry, sucker!” We compromised on 3:00. Shortly thereafter, I realized I had left my harness in the car. And belay device. And cordalette & locking biners. “That’s interesting,” I said. Colin pointed to the wad of ½” rap-sling webbing I had insisted on taking and said “That’ll make a nice swami belt, sucker!” However after a bit of discussion, we decided he’d be the one to wear the swami belt and I’d wear his harness. After 4 hours of sleep spread sporadically throughout 10, I was relieved when the alarm finally went off. The moon was bright, the snow was firm, and Colin’s swami belt was tight. We soloed up the gully to gain the ridge; the climbing was easy. We stayed left of the crest at first, until we gained the top of a small side-buttress, then we roped up and Colin led a steep mixed pitch to the actual ridge crest. I think that way is significantly different than what would be feasible in the summer. The sky was beginning to get light as I took over and led a long simul pitch that was mostly snowy and pretty easy; there were a couple rock outcroppings I could get gear in. Finally, I went up a steep gendarme with a few hard moves, after which I decided it was time to belay. We pitched it out from there through the crux (with little bits of simul if the rope wasn’t quite long enough to get to a good belay position). The very edge of the ridge on the SE side was exposed rock, due to sun exposure, so often it was possible to walk along that and use ice tools in the snow on your right for balance. When we got to the crux it happened to be my lead (fancy that), and I opted for the right-hand variation. All of this climbing was on the NW side of the ridge, so it was really covered in flutings. Fortunately beneath the flutings there was water ice, or frozen heather, or positive rock holds… so as long as I could keep excavating, I could proceed. I took a rising traverse up and right, past the bottom of the 5.7 offwidth (which was choked with snow), around the corner to sort of chimney with more exposed rock. Gear wasn’t ubiquitous, but I could get enough in to remain confident. Above the chimney I had to wallow up some more steep flutings, which took a lot of time & effort (reminded me a bit of Watusi Rodeo!), but I eventually reached the large ledge that marked the end of the difficult climbing after about 55 meters. It felt good to suddenly be in the sun again, and there were rappel slings right there to belay from. After Colin followed the crux, he led one long simul pitch from the ledge, across the face to the left, up a 60º snow & heather slope, to the summit. It was 12:30! We were standing on the summit! That wasn’t too far off my schedule! Maybe we can make it! We just have to descend in 2 hours, hike out in 2 ½ hours, and drive home in 2 ½ hours! We can do it! Yeah right. The first decision we had to make at that point was which way to descend. Neither of us knew the south ridge descent route, but I thought it must have to be faster than going down the way we came up. It turned out that there was certainly less snow on it, it was rock almost the whole way. And it probably was quicker overall. But we only had one 60m rope, and I think we didn’t get the route exactly right, because we had to set all our own rap stations after the first three. We ended up going right down the south side of the east face, in a total of 7 raps, and eventually connecting with a ramp of snow that we could downclimb to the glacier. That put us almost directly above our camp, but in the end it took 3 ½ hours to descend, putting us at camp at 4:00. Hmmm… Schedule slipping… We packed quickly & were snowshoeing back to “the notch” by 4:45. The lakes were still frozen, fortunately, but there were definitely more holes of liquid water showing on the lower one than before! We walked across it anyway, skillfully avoiding the holes. It was deep twilight as we hauled ourselves up 400 feet of deep powder to the ridge, where we saw the footprints of… other people! We tried to avoid them, but finally succumbed to their direction. You know the drill from there… dark slog long knee pound occasionally satisfy hunger yearn for car hike fast through pain. Almost 9:00. That’s when we got to the car. Hey, 4 hours isn’t bad to cover all that distance, with the snow & all, eh? But that wasn’t fast enough for my date. We threw our stuff in my car and I rallied down the road, finally getting cell phone reception in Sedro Wolley, My phone beeped. “2 Messages” it said. I listened to them. “Hi Dan. I didn’t expect to get your voice mail. I’m back from Steamboat, but I don’t know where you are. I’ll try calling back later.” “Hi Dan. I thought I was going to see you tonight, but it’s getting late and I’ve had a long day and I need to go to bed. Hope you’re ok, I guess I’ll talk to you later…” Triumphant failure. Gear Notes: Small rock rack (1 Ti piton, several nuts, 6 cams to 2") Worked great. There was not enough ice for screws.
  12. Climb: Three Fingers-FWA East Face Couloir Date of Climb: 2/19/2006 Trip Report: Three Fingers East Face Couloir a.k.a. "The Last Hurrah" a.k.a. "Journey to the Heart of the Spirit World" Darin Berdinka and myself climbed the East Face Couloir on Three Fingers. We believe this to be the first winter ascent of the route, which was a fine climb in a spectacular alpine setting, positioned as it is underneath the complex east face. We chose to forego any summit bid, deciding instead to traverse steep sugar snow above a 1500' abyss and descend mysterious snow slopes on the North side of the mountain. One rappel was made on the descent from a picket set as a deadman. No spirits were met at the Heart of the Spirit World, which was a good thing from our perspective. -Justin Thibault oops...picture HERE
  13. Climb: Welch Peak-NE Face FA/FWA Date of Climb: 3/13/2005 Trip Report: The relatively poor rock in the Cheam Range is best enjoyed when nicely frozen together, and it's no surprise that the few hardish routes that exist in the group are mostly winter climbs. And given the fact that the 15km of approach road via Jones Lake is usually impassable because of snow from December thru March or April, it's no news that such ascents are very rare. It does surprise me some, however, that the biggest face on the highest summit in the range has apparently passed thru the 80 years since the first ascent of the mountain without (so far as I am aware) a single attempt, especially since the discerning eye can pick out a pretty reasonable-looking line weaving around and between impregnable cliffs. With a high snow-line, several weeks of warmish daytime weather to consolidate the snow-pack, and a solid weekend forecast, it was obviously time to go. Andrew Rennie and I relaxed out of town mid-morning and started the walk up the Lucky Four trail at 1 p.m. Actually, the first hour-and-half of the walk is on old back-filled logging road [from about 750m to about 1220m], but after that the trail is remarkable pleasant. At 5 p.m. we pulled into camp, on a super-scenic knoll at about 1650m. We could see Fern and Jesse camped about 200m higher, but we were headed off on a traverse next morning, so there was no point in climbing further. We set the alarm for 2 and got away at 3:15. We surprised ourselves by reaching the glacial basin beneath the face in only 1 hour - fast cramponning on hard-frozen crust, but a considerable strain on our ankle ligaments. We had a bite and put on the harnesses on the flats [about 1700m], then started up the still-dark initial slope at 4:45. There were two or three crevasses to cross/bypass, and a sorta sketchy bridge at the schrund, but the snow was good and the frost inspired lots of confidence. We gained about 250m, then left the major snow-cleft leading to the col between Welch and the eastern gendarme and angled up right maybe 50m or so to confront our first significant challenge, a 10m Grade 3 waterfall step. 5:45, the ropes and gear came out, a belay went in, and the fun began. I got the first lead, placing both our screws in the ice to back up the rather mediocre belay, then climbing a right-angling snow-gully beyond to a good rock belay on the left at full 60m length. Andrew climbed the remaining 20m of the gully, then fought thru a short squeeze chimney, then continued up snow with intermittent ice beyond. I abandonned the belay and moved up about 10m to allow him to reach a secure stance - it pays to be sure of your partners in this kind of climbing, cuz you can't really communicate effectively, and you need to understand what is going on at the other end of the rope, and to have confidence that the other guy is not going to fall off for no good reason. My practise is simply to give a big yell when there is 10m of rope left, to give another big yell when the rope runs out, and if tension stays on the rope for a couple minutes, to tear down the belay and start climbing. I popped around the corner from Andrew into a left-angling gully, the key to the upper face, not visible from the campsite, but plainly visible from back down the valley. This had a tricky, thinly-iced exit, then we had to move together nearly 30m for me to reach a belay on the left side of a snow trough. Andrew continued right up the trough, passing above a little promontory and climbing a couple ice-steps. I moved with him about 20m to allow him to reach the rock-wall at the top of a major snow "Y". Here we needed to choose. We could continue right up and across a snow shelf maybe 2 pitches, then break back left thru the final significant rockwall to reach the summit snow-slopes, or we could go left and kinda end-run the rockwall. I went left, and in 60m just reached a flow which took 3/4 of a screw, backed up with a poor nut, for a belay. Andrew climbed the flow and disappeared around the corner. The rope fed out slowly while I got colder in the intermittent north wind, so I knew there was "interest" to the pitch. He finally ran the rope out and eventually a call came to follow - and what a fine pitch it was, with considerable ice, and two short vertical steps. Unfortunately, there wasn't much gear, most of what there was was poor, and since we only had two screws and one of those was most of my belay, his belay consisted of his two tools buried into a snow-fluting. Most uninspiring, but you can't be going falling off on these things anyway. The cornice beckoned a ropelength above, and I got a pretty good screw into ice after maybe 10m and another at 30m, then 3 rock pieces into a wall 5m below the crest. The snow under the cornice was horrendously powdery, and collapsed away underfoot to reveal slabby rock, but I managed to squirm my way up to where I could reach the crest by kinda semi-chimneying between the snowy slabs and the underside of the cornice overhang. There was a crack that I had convinced myself would be easy to enlarge to enable exit, but I fought and hacked and pulled and struggled and swore and came close to pitching off a couple times over the next half-hour before finally managing to belly-flop out onto the sunny east ridge. It was 2:45, and we were up. We were tired, and it was late, so we declined the pleasures of trudging up thru the sun-softened snow the extra couple hundred metres to the summit. We rapped once on the east ridge, into the first south-facing gully, then the descent and trudge back to camp were uneventful. By 8:30 we were well-fed, well-hydrated, and soon deeply asleep. Fern and Jesse must have cruched by sometime in the dark (ah, the perils of Monday to Friday work...), but we didn't hear them, and after a fine breakfast and a relaxing morning, we wandered out to rejoin the world Monday afternoon. Seldom can I recall a climb of such seriousness coming together so smoothly and - despite wishing it otherwise - I'm sure it'll be quite some time until the next such event. Isn't it just so great to be alive when these special climbs and special times happen though? Gear Notes: 2 screws (4 woulda been nicer) 6 nuts (smallish to medium) 5 cams (finger to wide hand) 7 pitons (2 long thin LAs - don't ever leave home without them! 1 medium blade and 1 long blade. 1 baby angle. 2 Leepers, which we did not use. Approach Notes: the Lucky Four Mine trail is a delight! go there!
  14. I've long been puzzled by the lack of information about the first winter ascent of Mt Olympus. In the Climber's Guide to the Olympic Mountains (3rd Ed., 1988, p. 220), attempts by Pete Schoening and friends in the late 1940s and early 1950s are mentioned. These attempts are documented in the Mountaineer Annuals (1948, p. 54, and 1959, p. 63). In one attempt, Schoening reached the foot of the summit rocks, only to find them so coated in rime as to be unclimbable given the group's limited equipment. The Climber's Guide mentions the International Geophysical Year (IGY) party led by Ed LaChapelle, which wintered on the Snow Dome in 1957-58. It says they did not climb the main peak of Olympus. The guide concludes: "In all likelihood, Olympus has now been climbed. Unfortunately, there is no record." Well, that's not right. In the March 1965 issue of Summit magazine (p. 18) Richard Springgate writes that on New Year's Day (presumedly 1965) he, with John Norgord, Jan Still and John Wells, all members of the University of Washington Climbing Club, made the first winter ascent of Mt Olympus. They approached on foot via the Hoh River, climbing to the summit from the IGY hut during their fifth day out. How could the authors of the Olympic Climber's Guide have missed this? Is there a later edition of the guidebook where this has been corrected? The 1965 climb may deserve credit as the first winter ascent of Olympus made conventionally from the Hoh Ranger Station. But, in fact, it was not the first winter climb. In a 1997 interview with Stella Degenhardt of the Mountaineers History Committee, Jim Hawkins of the IGY team revealed that he climbed the true summit solo on January 5, 1958, during one of his stints at the research station. We was accompanied by Roger Ross, a U.W. meteorology student who, according to Hawkins, "was not a mountain person at all and would have no part of it." If you know anything more about the history of winter climbing on Mt Olympus, or any reason why the Hawkins and Springgate climbs should not be recognized as pioneering ascents, let me know.
  15. Climb: Mt Buckner-North Face Date of Climb: 2/20/2004 Trip Report: Sky, Corey, and myself left Seattle butt-ass early on Thursday morning with plans to climb and ski the north face of Mt. Buckner. After a brief delay to discuss speed limits on hwy 20 with Trooper Joe, we were on our way up Cascade River Road. We were stopped by a large blowdown just past m.p. 18. One final gear organization, and we set off walking up the bare road. ~1/2 mile later we found continuous snow and were able to start skinning. The trip up the road was uninspiring as the views up to the peaks was obscured by low hanging couds. We left Cascade River Road just past Midas Creek. Skinned through open slopes and timber generally following near the creek until we broke above timberline. Here visibility began to become an issue. Solid white out conditions made the going a little slower than normal. But periodic clearings gave us glimpses of the route up towards the Quien Sabe Glacier. Up and around the moraine, and it was moderate slopes all the way up to near 8,000'. There the clouds broke and the peaks began to appear. Johannesburg, Forbidden, Eldorado, Boston, looking like islands floating in the clouds as the layer began to lower and break apart. We camped at ~8200' below a rock outcropping very close below Boston Peak. The next morning crystal clear skies greeted us and lifted spirits. After a leisurely breakfast and gear packing session we were off. Sky lead up the slopes towards the notch immediately S. of Boston Pk. that we were hoping to use to gain access to the Boston Glacier. Postholling was a pain, but it got worse as we entered the gully and encountered sloping slabby chossy crap covered by powdery, thin snowcover. Crampons were employed and a few tricky moves over a couple of rock steps led us to a steeper snow gully leading right for the notch. Sky was leading up and when he shouted "Holy Shit!, Holy Shit!" I thought that things were either really really good or really really bad. When he yelled again, "It's all good!", all questions were erased. The Boston Glacier reached right up to the notch where we were standing, and rolls endlessly away to the NE. To the E. was Buckner with the NF clearly in view. Man it looked sweet. With little time to enjoy the views we donned skis and enjoyed nearly 1500 v.f. of pure Boston Glacier pow. From our low point we put skins on and began climbing towards the face. And we kept climbing, skinning all the way to just past the bergschrund. There we strapped skis to packs and kick-stepped up the face. Climbing was straightforeward, and moderately steep. Highly enjoyable, with the Boston Glacier rolling away far below. Summited at 2:00, and enjoyed the views to peaks in all directions. The notch where we accessed the glacier looked so far away and our ski tracks down the glacier seemed insignificant on the mass of ice. With little time to linger Sky began the ski descent. He stopped a little ways down to shoot some pics of Corey and myself on the descent. The skiing was simply awesome. Wind buffed, soft, powder down the entire face from the summit. All to quickly we were back at our skin track, and began to climb back up to the notch. At the notch we decided to rappel rather than deal with downclimbing, and although it took a bit longer, provided much more piece of mind. At camp we decided to spend the night rather than ski out in the dark. The next morning was another blue bird day and we packed camp and enjoyed ~3000' of fine buffed out powder before finding crusty conditions lower down in the forest. A quick ski out the road and back to the car. PBR's were cracked and swilled, and the outing came to an end. ~Ross
  16. Climb: The Chopping Block-SE Route Date of Climb: 2/15/2004 Trip Report: I climbed the Chopping Block today after hiking in yesterday via Goodell Creek and The Barrier. The entire Goodell Creek valley (and I would imagine most N Cascade valleys) has plenty of evidence of November's torrential rains. The Goodell Creekbed is about 4 times wider in places, and the landslide that came down the opposite side of the valley is enormous. The SE route was moderate - mostly steep snow with a couple tricky mixed sections. I originally planned to stay up for Monday, but the avalanche hazard seemed to be rapidly growing. I believe this was probably the first winter ascent of The Chopping Block - If you think or know otherwise, please let me know. Gear Notes: -altimeter would've been useful -50m 6mm cord -Camp XLH 130 harness (4.5oz) -DMM Bugette -Snowshoes very useful
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