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Matt Lemke

[TR] Buckner Mountain NF, Horseshoe Peak - North Face 06/07/2018

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Trip: Buckner Mountain NF, Horseshoe Peak - North Face

Trip Date: 06/07/2018

Trip Report:

 

Who: Josh Lewis and I 
What: North Face of Buckner and Horseshoe Peak. Bulgers #82-83 for me 
When: June 6-7, 2018 

With good weather in the middle of the week, and Josh recovered from his surgery he had late last month, who else to call and invite for a mid-week climb of two Bulgers neither of us had done before? Leaving Renton at 10:30am Wednesday, I made the now routine pick-up of Josh in Lynnwood, and after a quick stop at the hardware store to buy some 90 degree aluminum angle bar (for more pickets...I lost most of mine on Lincoln Peak) we drove out in my van to the Cascade Pass TH (well, the gate at mile 21). Although we made it to the gate one mile beyond the Eldo TH, it is now gated AT the Eldo TH for more repairs. This earlier closure to the road took effect yesterday morning just fyi to anyone going up there. 

We began the walk up the remainder of the road for 1.5 miles to the Boston Basin TH at 3pm Wednesday, and hiked the somewhat brushy trail all the way to 5,600 feet before hitting any snow! I couldn't believe how fast everything was melting. The snow however began extremely suddenly and within a matter of 50 vertical feet went from nothing to 5 feet in depth! Here I switched out of my approach shoes and into my boots, and we continued up the Quien Sabe glacier, passing a large Mountaineers Group along the way who were all camped at roughly 6,200 feet. We broke trail through the fresh snows of the past week, following the mostly hidden existing tracks all the way to the Boston Sahale col, where we planned to bivy for the night. To my surprise however, the ridgecrest bivies were all still snow covered, so we opted to continue over to the Boston Glacier to camp. We still had a couple hours of daylight left, leaving us enough time to made the tricky scramble (tricky with big mountain boots that is...) up the ridge towards Boston Peak and onto the upper reaches of the Boston Glacier. Small cornices remaining on the ridge made the traverse a bit more interesting, as we had to traverse small ledges below them on the east side of the crest, with 1000+ feet of air below us down to Horseshoe Basin! 

We made it to the Boston Glacier, and descended 500 feet to the first flat spot, and laid out the tarp for our bivy. We cooked dinner and melted snow and despite the haze/pollution/high clouds, the sunset was still a nice sight. We set the alarm for 4am. 
 

Totally dry below treeline!
Totally dry below treeline!
 
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Large group we saw in Boston Basin
Large group we saw in Boston Basin
 
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Sharkfin Tower
Sharkfin Tower
 
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Sahale Peak
Sahale Peak
 
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Traversing to Boston Glacier
Traversing to Boston Glacier
 
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It was quite chilly in the morning (granted we were camped at 8,000 feet), so we were slow to get out of our sleeping bags. We even had some frost on our bags and tarp! Eventually, by 5:45 am we roped up and started the traverse across the upper Boston Glacier to the north face of Buckner. Crevasses were easy to spot and navigate around, and most had large snow bridges covering them. We passed beneath the north face of Horseshoe Peak along the way, and once at the base of the route, we unroped and simply continued ascending solo, passing around 4 small bergschrunds on the lower part of the face without difficulty. Here the steepness increased to 45 degrees as we continued climbing the perfect snow that took front points beautifully. We took small breaks here and there when we had a chance (rock ledges, slightly softer snow etc) and made it to the summit ridge just over two hours from leaving our camp on the Boston Glacier below Boston Peak. The final 200 feet of the face offered the steepest terrain, approaching 55 degrees, which was also the most insecure snow. Soloing this section got my heart racing a little more! 

We left packs on the ridge, and traversed to the eastern summit of Buckner, bypassing a large gendarme on the south side descending 40 feet or so to get around. We decided it is worth ascending both summits of Buckner since they are likely impossible to determine which is the highest. After a quick stay on the east summit, we returned to our packs and finished the last 30 feet to the west summit and signed the register. Plenty of snacks were consumed as well! 
 

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Our bivy at 8000 feet on Boston Glacier
Our bivy at 8000 feet on Boston Glacier
 
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Boston Peak
Boston Peak
 
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Boston Glacier and Forbidden
Boston Glacier and Forbidden
 
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Josh finishing the route
Josh finishing the route
 
Western summit from the top of the north face route
Western summit from the top of the north face route
 
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Josh on his way to the east summit
Josh on his way to the east summit
 
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Looking down the north face from the west summit
Looking down the north face from the west summit


By around 9:30am, after over an hour on the summit ridge visiting both summits, we began descending the SW slope, dropped 1000 feet or so and curved right onto a the snow finger leading up to Horseshoe Peak. We ascended this 30-45 degree slope to its highest point where it dumped us off on a large ledge 100 feet below the summit. I swapped into my approach shoes here for the summit scramble, and we worked our way leftward, around a small buttress and into the loose gully leading up to the notch just east of the summit. Then we scrambled up the left-leaning ramp on the south side of the slab, and I solod the short, one move wonder 5.2 finish to the top. Josh was right behind, although since he didn't have approach shoes, the final move was slightly harder for him, but still no problem. We watched from the summit as clouds began to slowly roll in from the west, now obscuring Jburg and Eldorado. We decided to start the long haul back quickly as to avoid a potential whiteout. 
 

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Horseshoe Peak in the middle
Horseshoe Peak in the middle
 
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Josh making the final move
Josh making the final move
 
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Buckner from Horseshoe
Buckner from Horseshoe


We made a long descending traverse across Horseshoe Basin, dropping to a low point of about 6,600 feet, then ascended the ramp and onwards up 1000 more feet of snow back towards the Sahale camps at 7,600 feet. We then traversed over to the Sahale Arm, where we saw a couple skiers and a large Nols group coming down from Sahale Peak, and ran down snow slopes directly to the Cascade Pass Trail, bypassing Cascade Pass itself and in quick time, made it back to bare ground, where I was very happy to once again be not wearing my boots. As always, the stupid trail dragged on, with much annoyance until we reached the parking lot, which is now bare of snow. Only the last switchback just below the parking area still has some snow on the road, but I wouldn't expect the road to be open for a while still. The 2 miles back to the van were nice, as we caught up with the couple skiers we saw and chatted with them for a bit. Upon returning to the van at 4pm, I saw everyone parked at the upper gate had a notice the road was now closed at the Eldo TH and we could still exit at the gate there, but to close it behind us, as it was just "dummy locked". On the way out, milk and muffins awaited in Marblemount, and unfortunately with deteiorating weather for Friday (today) we decided not to attempt Tower and Golden Horn and just return to Lynnwood/Renton. 

All in all, another great trip with Josh. We ascended 5,500 feet, then descended 500 in 6ish hours Wednesday and 3,200 feet gain, plus the hike all the way out in just over 10 hours on Thursday with packs, and managed to get both peaks. I call that a pretty good success! 

 

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Gear Notes:
Boots/Crampons, one technical tool, bivy gear

Approach Notes:
Boston Basin - Quien Sabe Glacier to Boston Glacier and traverse to NF of Buckner
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Please note this TR is copied from NWHikers. JasonG as you may be aware after chatting with a couple friends of mine, the editor for formulating trip reports, especially the image insertion tool is far superior on NWH. Actually, I believe NWH is the best site in the world for formulating TRs. Feel free to PM me if you'd like to chat more about this. I would be happy to help improve the site if I can.

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2 minutes ago, Matt Lemke said:

I believe NWH is the best site in the world for formulating TRs

Well, that needs to change!!  :lmao:

Feel free to add to our discussion in cc.news on how to improve the site @Matt Lemke@jon and @olyclimber will have to weigh in on whether we can improve the photo functionality of cc.com to be on par with that other site.  The key is that the images need to get uploaded to the cc.com server if we want to have images that render correctly 10-15 years from now (we've had a lot of issues of TRs with bad photo links).  Do images actually reside on NWhikers, or is it just linking to a web album of yours?

Nice work on the trip BTW, the NF of Buckner is a fine adventure and I'm always interested in how people decide to make it happen.  We opted for a camp on Sahale arm and did a RT up the NF and back to the arm and out Cascade Pass (minus Horseshoe- I don't even know if I knew it existed).  But, as you illustrate, a lot of ways to skin that cat!

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@jon, @olyclimber, @JasonG   Yeah that's the kicker...the photos are not hosted on NWHikers. There is an easy linking system to any one of 4-5 external web album hosts. Flikr, Google Photos etc. If photos must be uploaded to the same site you are making the trip report on, it can be made possible to make it as easy, however you'd have to compete with Google's photo uploading system and speeds, AND have a very quick and easy way to link photos into the body of the trip report. It would require a huge amount of work. You also will need a large database capacity which will increase hosting costs. Summitpost is having a huge issue with this. They have so many photos on the site it costs $2000 per month to host. This ultimately will lead to the death of that site in the near future.

 

My recommendation would be to avoid requiring photos having to be uploaded to CC in order to build trip reports (although you can still make it an option). I actually believe that leads to sites dying out in the long term as we are seeing on Summitpost.

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Well disk space is only getting cheaper and cheaper.  I think the problem we've seen with CC.com TRs is actually the reverse of what you describe @Matt Lemke   I've seen a number of TRs photos go away because the externally hosted photos are no longer available.  That sucks, we've had some great TRs neutered of their photos because the photos where hosted on a site where either the site is gone now, or their URL structure changed.

That said, I sure how the Flickr, Google Photos, etc don't go away because I'm a big Flickr user.  They just got acquired by SmugMug, so I hope they don't have any big changes.

That said... have you tried to embed photos in this site with another source? I think it works awesome in the new software.  You just past the URL and the software autosenses and displays it.

 

DSC01655

 

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The first photos is a link to the whole Flickr album, I just pasted the URL to the Flickr album in the post and the software automatically set it up that way.. Notice that it allows you to toggle through all photos in the ablum.  The  second photo is a link to a particular photo, so you can do it that way if you prefer too.

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12 minutes ago, Matt Lemke said:

My recommendation would be to avoid requiring photos having to be uploaded to CC in order to build trip reports

Oh, it isn't now required, just recommended. 

Here's what I do....export a lower resolution subset of photos into a folder on my desktop and then upload to cc.com. I understand that if you post from a phone or Google photos that it might not be as easy. 

Oh, just saw what @olyclimber posted, thanks!

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12 minutes ago, olyclimber said:

Notice that it allows you to toggle through all photos in the ablum

I tried this with one of the larger SmugMug albums of mine and I think there is a limit to this feature on cc.com.  It said my link was too big?

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