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Kyle M

[TR] Lennox Mountain - Goat Basin Ice Climbs FAIL 11/30/2019

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Trip: Lennox Mountain - Goat Basin Ice Climbs FAIL

Trip Date: 11/30/2019

Trip Report:

TLDR: the approach is pretty heinous without snow coverage. Lots of climbable ice, even in the lower basin at 2500 ft, but the approach terrain is confusing, brushy, and rugged. 

Long version:

I've long been curious about the Dave Burdick ice routes in Goat Basin beneath Lennox Mountain. There's not much information about them expect for when Dave originally went up there himself. During this recent coldsnap, I was wondering where to find substantial ice and this seemed like a good shot: north facing basin fed by large snowfields above. Flow is the issues during this old season cold snap, but the north slopes of Lennox are large enough that I thought there'd be enough water to form ice.

We drove up the Money Creek Road, which is in good shape. Through the trees, it appeared we saw ice up there. We parked near a pullout and tried to find a place to cross Money Creek. We found a spot where I could make it across the icy boulders with trekking poles, but my buddy unfortunately fell in. We dumped his boots out on the other side and dried out some of his clothes. I'd recommend just fording.

We started up on the west side of Goat Creek. The amount of blowdowns was ridiculous and movement was really slow, so we bailed westward, finding an open clearing at the base of an avalanche slope. This was very brushy and we couldn't see our feet, but at least it was easier than the dense forest. Then we got onto some dry rock creekbeds. It wasn't brushy, but all the rocks were covered in frost and ice, making for slow travel. Eventually this creekbed joined again with Goat Creek and we walked up the west bank of Goat Creek.

At this point, we started to see a bunch of long ice gullies coming down into this lower valley, down to an elevation of about 2500 ft! These lines were about 1000 ft long, with many sections of WI2-3. Like a mouse is drawn to shiny things, we decided to try exploring one of these. But our vision of the lower sections was obscured by alder and terrain, so it was difficult to choose which one. Eventually we made our choice and climbed out of the steep river bank. The alder got really bad as we got closer to the climb, and the boulders had snow on them underfoot, pretty nasty.

When I reached the base of the climb, I was disappointed to see that the entire 100+ ft first pitch, formerly obscured from us, actually began in a pool of water and was too thin down low. Additionally, there was another cliff below us that prevented traversing to the next flow to our left. The terrain is deceptively complex out here, a maze of alder and canyons, much like the kind of narrow topographical canyons you see in the Wenatchee or Yakima foothills. Bummed, we retreated to the valley floor, only to find that the alder had unzipped my pocket and my phone was missing. We retraced my steps using the GPS in the alder, but never found it. Time for an upgrade, I guess.

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The first pitch of our long proposed route. Everything above it looked great.

Back at the valley floor, we decided to move leftwards and try to ascend the boulder slope on the SE side of the valley that would lead us to Goat Basin. Alder kept us pinned on the riverbed, but it became entangled in a slot canyon, necessitating some spicy ice slab scrambling to get around the riverbank. On the way back, we would cross the river a few times to avoid this.

Going up the boulder field, the snow got deeper and movement slower. Eventually we just gave up. From here, we finally had a good viewpoint of all the lower flows. If we had this view to start the day, we could've seen the way of bypassing some lower wet pitches and getting on the beautiful upper flows. But alas, it was too late in the day, I was pretty beat up mentally by the rugged approach (we covered only like ~1 mile), so we started the painful descent down the snowy boulders.PB300073.thumb.JPG.08f5317f1a9e9fb1bfa3ba17f8140253.JPG

Good view of the lower valley. Lots of good looking low angle lines.

We nailed the routefinding on the return trip and did everything in probably half the time. It's amazing what a little beta can do.

It was pretty disappointing to not get on any ice even with the cold temps we have had, but conditions in the Cascades are deceptively bad right now. I guess this is the price I pay for being an adventurous climber and explorer. I am new to travel in the mountains in this sort of shoulder season and am learning so much about when and where to go and when to just stay home. I have no doubt the actual Goat Basin climbs were in, as these lower ones were in above 2500 ft. I would not recommend this approach under anything but a mid winter snowpack. The brush and boulders are really bad, but with a few feet of snow, it could be pretty fast. Just be careful because the slopes are subject to significant overhead avy danger. The Money Creek crossing would be a pain at any time of year.

Big thanks to Chris for always enjoying my crazy adventure ideas and staying positive. Hopefully this information is helpful to someone and our sufferings will be vindicated.

Gear Notes:
Screws and ropes and tools, used none of them sadly.

Approach Notes:
It's rough. Stick west of Goat Creek initially, then cross back to the east side as you ascend to Goat Basin.
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Good on you for getting out there and giving it a shot. Sometimes the rope just needs to get some fresh air and go for a walk. They don’t like being cooped up in a closet. 

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you might try exploring near the end of the road if we get another low elevation cold snap w/o snow. by then, though, the goat basin routes will probably be in nick.

 

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@rat crazy! If only we had known this and driven further up the road... kickin myself for not researching more. Alas, seems like that was a bit greater of a cold spell and maybe those routes were not in. At least that's what I'll tell myself...

Edited by Kyle M

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Doh!  We did your same scoping from the road and a few mins down the creek on Sunday.  Then we drove to the end of the road and did a fun 3 pitch wi 2-3 next to the demon mine.  Might get snowed under and rained out this week though.

 

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Sorry!  I just wanted to share the info for the future.  I guess we've all taken our tools for a long walk in he bushes though, it's a Cascades passage but bummer on the phone.  I'd head back in this weekend if anyone wants.  Not sure how it will all fare though.

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17 hours ago, OlympicMtnBoy said:

I guess we've all taken our tools for a long walk in he bushes though,

I feel like more than half the time I just end up taking my tools for a long walk in the bushes.

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21 hours ago, aikidjoe said:

I feel like more than half the time I just end up taking my tools for a long walk in the bushes.

That is better than I do.  I feel Iike 90% of the time I just take my gear for a walk and I always think to myself that it would have been a nice hike if I had not had 25 pounds of climbing gear in my pack.

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To paraphrase a saying commonly (but probably erroneously) attributed to Mark Twain: Ice climbing is a good winter hike spoiled.

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