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Michael Telstad

[TR] Chair Peak - NE Buttress 12/09/2019

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Trip: Chair Peak - NE Buttress

Trip Date: 12/09/2019

Trip Report:

Went out to Chair peak yesterday in search of mixed conditions and found exactly what we were searching for.

We couldn't have asked for a nicer day, but would have preferred a few more clouds to shade us and the route from the blazing sun. 

Overall I would describe the route as "in" mixed climbing condition. Out as a snow or ice climb 

P1: We took the right variation. Very fun and good mixed climbing practice. little to no ice but I did place one 10cm screw. 

P2: was a simul block across snow covered slabs and ledges over to the base of the ice step. Not many options for belays but it's hard to fall with much force on those slabs. 

P3: Sweet neve up to the narrow, thin and unfortunately short ice step. The step consists of a narrow column just barely wide enough to both protect and climb. I placed two rater than one stubby to help protect the belay anchor.

I placed my spectre for fun in some turf after the step and belayed off two pins and a slung pinch point up and right. 

P4: cruiser snow simul to the top. Sean slung a tree for pro.

Both rap anchors for the couloir rappel are currently out of reach. In order to reach the bolts I had to stand on my toes and hook the bottom rap ring, with my tool, then do a pull up and clip in direct to my tool in order to thread the rappels. The piton rappel is another 20ft higher. I'm 6'2 and could barely reach, anyone shorter would likely need to tie their tools together or use a probe.

The skis pictures spent the day under a tree somewhere on the approach.

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Gear Notes:
Gear we brought: Cams .4-1, many nuts, 1 Spectre, 4 kb's, 2 10cm, 1 13cm, and 2 16cm screws, 1 picket, 9 single slings 2 doubles. Gear we used: all the cams, the KB's, the 10cm, 13cm and one of the 16's, 6 singles 2 doubles.

Approach Notes:
Currently the summer approach seemed to be the best option. Pray for snow.
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Just to add a few of my thoughts on an awesome day in the mountains:

The warmth was a bit concerning, but fortunately it stayed just cool enough that the snow and ice remained fairly stable. As we passed the Thumbtack I was on the fence as to whether it was wise to continue, but Michael convinced me that we should at least try the first pitch. He led through to the tree grove, and by the time I reached his belay I knew we'd made the right choice and felt psyched to continue. I initially went a bit off-route following a plumb-line from the grove, but ended up downclimbing and traversing left. This long simul pitch was technically easy but I felt I had to be cautious not to commit my weight to loose, shallow snow on a slippery slab. I placed a microtraxion on a decent cam about halfway to the base of the crux ice step. Michael led that next pitch with aplomb, while I ducked under a small roof to shield myself from the icicle bombardment, belaying from two ok screws and a pounded-in tool. The ice I placed the screws in was a little more melty than I would've liked, but fortunately still in the shade. If it had been in the sun I would have tried to excavate a rock anchor, at least as a backup. The rest of the climb I got to pretend I was Ueli Steck and sprint up solid snow to a belay off some frozen scrub trees on the summit ridge. In a higher snowpack these trees would surely be buried, but a butt-belay should suffice. 

We began descending from the summit just after 1:00pm, and by the time we were rapping there were clumps of snow and ice sloughing off sun-heated rocks. The descent was mellow (thanks to Michael's aid climbing skills to thread the rope) with a 60m rap (we brought a tag line), but there were plenty of actual and possible intermediate rap anchors in the gully. There is some easy snowfield down-climbing both before and after the rap.

No doubt the snowpack is changing rapidly in the next few days, but for future reference carrying the skis was definitely a wasted effort in these conditions.

I feel like we got a bit lucky regarding the weather's effect on the route conditions, but it definitely felt like some type-1 fun on a beautiful day in the mountains. Watching an ocean of fog settled over Seattle and the Puget Sound valley strengthened my delight in being out of the city on a Monday in December. 

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11 hours ago, bigeo said:

Pretending you"re Ueli Steck seems like a bad idea.

Good one.

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