Trip: Colfax Peak - Cosley-Houstan

Trip Date: 11/10/2018

Trip Report:   Yesterday Peter and I took a spin up the Cosley-Houstan finding excellent conditions. There is a lot of info on the route out there so I'll just detail how we climbed the route and anything others should be on the lookout for. With cold temps and a clear sky we left Bellingham to 5:30am. We left the parking lot, with race skis (aka suffer sticks), at about 7:10. We cruised up the trail and decided to start skinning just bellow the Coleman glacier. Here, we have always gone straight up toward Colfax in the past but there was a highway of a skin track headed west. We decided to take the highway and ride the ridge to colfax, this proved to be a waste of time. Upon traversing the ridge and taking one short ski run in excellent snow we started breaking trail up toward the route. Conditions looked good and the whole north face was holding a bit of rime. We got to the base of the climb around 11:45 and started transitioning. I went to put on my crampons and realized I'd made a mistake. I had dartwin toes with camp nanotech heels, the problem was that I had a semi auto toe bail that needs a normal crampon strap but the camp's have an elastic strap with a plastic buckle. Improvisation was needed, 30 minutes and some cordage later my crampons were on, but still not perfect. The first pitch looked easy so we opted to simul though a few screws to a belay at the base of the vertical ice. With my cold hands and janky 'pons, I opted to let Peter "have" the money pitch (thanks Peter). He launched up the steep water ice. Cold temps (~20F) led to brittle, chandelier ice. His first real swing into the pillar lead to a deadening thunk as the ice under my feet shifted. Peter stitched up the first steep section and pulled out over the top with a single screw left. (We brought 7 and I was belaying from 2). He brought me up to the 1 screw and 1 axe belay. After reinforcing the anchor he led the next 40ft of sub vertical ice to a picket belay. From here I led around the corner to the right to see the second curtain of ice, it looked far too thin to climb. I attempted to place a 13cm screw at the base and bottomed out half way in, and it didn't look any thicker up higher. I wasn't about the try it because at this point we were simuling with 2 mediocre screws between us. I chose a line up a sub vertical section of snice to the right of the steepest ice, this proved fruitful and positive but was protection-less. Above this I dug into a small cornice and gave Peter a meat belay through this steeper section. At this point we were on terrain we had climbed a few weeks prior on the west ridge. We opted to put the rope away and just climb to the top (taking the correct/left line this time around). We topped out around 3:00 or 3:30 and knew we had about an hour of light left. But we also had skis... The descent was rapid and we were able to down climb instead of rappel to get back on the Coleman. We moved as quickly as possible through a combo of skiing and booting around some very large cracks (the largest requires a long end run the the east). We went from summit to off the glacier in a bit over an hour in mostly excellent snow. After wandering around in the dark for a bit we found our shoes and started the walk back to the car. Total time was 11hrs 50min. I think this a reasonable time, we likely climbed the route faster than most as we only did 3 real pitches but we also took a very circuitous route to the base of the climb. I'd say get out there and climb it soon but freezing levels are going up to 11k so... Maybe just enjoy my cell phone photos for now.     Fighting through some wind Wallowing up toward the first pitch. Peter gets the goods. Peter on the best neve around above the last ice step Pulling though on to the top Crampon shenanigans     Beta photo of the polish route Gear Notes:
7 screws (would rather 8) 3 pins, didn't use any.

Approach Notes:
Skinny skis on fresh pow.
    • Rawk on!