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[TR] Colchuck Peak - North Buttress Couloir 06/06/2020

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Trip: Colchuck Peak - North Buttress Couloir

Trip Date: 06/06/2020

Trip Report:

Yesterday myself and two others climbed the North Buttress Couloir on Colchuck peak. We started from the car around 3am, with the parking lot nearly full. After stopping by the lake to filter water around 5am, we got to the base of the couloir around 7am. As mentioned in other reports, the couloir was already in full sunlight. 

We stayed high and right to enter the couloir, which seemed like the correct choice. Our plan was to simulclimb the entirety of the route. As we started to climb the couloir, we encountered two moats. The first one was passable with some great ice sticks and high steps, while the second had to be navigated around with some very awkward rock moves. This ended the difficulties in the couloir and the rest was just steep snow. We climbed the couloir in two pitches, the first covering most of the ground up until about 300 feet from the notch, and the second to reach the notch. There were plenty of options for protection in the rock, and the snow was decent for vertical pickets. 

The start of the couloir; the moat is barely visible on the far left hand side. A party of two chose to bypass it with the rock step to the right.


Climbing in the couloir:


At the notch we led out towards the right about 150 feet, and then started moving upwards. There were a couple of thoughtful mixed moves, as well as an ice step to pull over. Overall the face seemed steeper and more exposed than the couloir. We headed straight for another notch below the true summit, reaching it in a single long simulclimbing pitch. At this point there was a party of two who were soloing who got stuck behind us, as the snow finger was relatively narrow. Once again, there were plenty of options for protection on the face in the exposed rock.

Once we reached the notch below the summit, we let the party of two pass us and then led out to the far left, then right up a chimney type feature. This spat us out below and to the west of the summit still. We had one more short pitch with a few interesting fifth class moves to reach the main summit area. We chose to keep our crampons on for all this climbing as there were still some snowy spots. 

At the notch after the northwest face, climbing up and then to the right:


Traverse below the final wall to reach the summit area:


We reached the summit around 1:45pm. We ate some food and hung out for a while, then headed down the Colchuck glacier route. After some moderate snow downclimbing, we decided the glacier was in good enough shape to glissade down, even though some people were choosing to walk down. A kind of quick glissade (I'm slow) got us to the lake and our approach shoe stash at 5pm, and to the car by 6:45pm. 

Overall this was a really fun climb, and it's still in decent shape. The moats will certainly become more problematic as time goes by but it seems like you can bypass them with the rock step. The cold temperatures helped keep the snow from getting too slushy in the sun.

Gear Notes:
3 pickets, 0.5-#2 C4s, rack of nuts, a few slings, one ice screw. We placed basically all the gear except the screw.

Approach Notes:
Stay far right once past the lake and follow snow bands up to the base of the couloir.
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Nice!  Looks like better wedder than I would have thought.  I worked on my fence in the rain.  Go figure.

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Awesome, looked like a beautiful day. For me, that route was a gateway drug for winter/spring mixed routes. Chose to do it in January years ago and it was a mini epic.

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13 hours ago, JasonG said:

Nice!  Looks like better wedder than I would have thought.  I worked on my fence in the rain.  Go figure.

Yeah we expected it to be kind of rainy/snowy with maybe whiteout conditions for at least part of the day, but we got lucky and the weather was great all day. 

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