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kmfoerster

[TR] Johannesburg Mountain - NE Buttress 08/01/2020

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Posted (edited)

Trip: Johannesburg Mountain - NE Buttress

Trip Date: 08/01/2020

Trip Report:

 

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Over the weekend my friend Matt and I climbed the NE Buttress of Jburg. I won't add too much beta-wise since theres a decent amount out there, and I wouldn't want to take any adventure out of it for those of you wanting to climb it. I'll just emphasize some key points and warnings, but Steph Abegg's write up is as comprehensive as it gets (as usual). I'll try and keep this chronological but expect some tangents and pauses for reflecting. We left Seattle around 5:30 and got to the Cascade Pass trailhead around 8am and started walking to the base of the route. We followed the slabs to the left of the left most waterfall at the constriction of the CJ couloir, per Steph's write up. Solid secure scrambling with a step of sketchy 5th class gets you up to the first snow patch. We then downward traversed over to a brushy bench to start the vertical schwack. We more or less found a route through the trees that felt relatively well traveled. It stayed More or less on the left side of the '51 rib. If you can see the CJ couloir faintly through the trees, you're doing fine. Some interesting moves through chimneys formed by krummholz. At any point you find yourself getting pissed off through the trees, just remember it the density of the brush thats your protection from tumbling off the mountain. We busted through the trees and into the steep heather and then finally onto the rock. Luckily it was all dry, I couldn't imagine doing this route a day after a rain. The initial scrambling was very secure and kind of steepened, became a bit more loose as we did a upward traverse to the '57 rib. We encountered nothing harder than 5.6 but simul soloed all of the rock. This being said, we didn't regret bringing the rock rack. We got up to the 7100' bivy a bit after 1pm and just decided to keep moving. I know, I can feel some of your rolling your eyes. We had perfectly soft snow through the ridge and headwall, which was nice since we were in trail runners/ approach shoes and universal crampons. We summited around 3pm and took some photos, signed the register (I don't always, but felt like I needed to on this one). The descent down the E ridge went smoothly thanks to the occasional cairn. We stayed about 40-50' below the crest the whole time until we got to the first rap station. We did about 5 or 6 raps with some down climbing to get us to the top of CJ couloir. The rap stations were looking a bit weathered and tired so we backed them up with gear on the first rap off of them or added slings. We were making great time so we thought to just try and c2c even though we had bivy gear. This would prove to be a bad idea. The traverse to Doug's Direct went a lot slower than expected. Side hilling through herbs. In the fading light we mis-identified the wrong location for DD. I was going off Steph's map, which I think has DD a bit too far up the ridge. Go off her photo/overlay, its spot on. The steep heather and loose scrambling up to the ridge is very time consuming as well. We got up to where we thought DD was and it was getting dark. I pulled my pack off to get my head lamp and I forgot I had my ice axe quick stowed through my pack shoulder strap. I heard one clink and I knew exactly what had just happened. I turned around to watch my ice axe tomahawk down the north side of Mixup. I was so angry at myself. We didn't feel we were at the right location so we investigated some near by notches. It was only getting darker. At one point a hold I was grabbing dislodged and sent me sliding down heather. I thought I was going to go for a long ride. Somehow while keeping the block off my head as I was sliding I was able to grab a fistful of heather and arrest my fall. I was okay. Things we spiraling out of control and we decided to just descend down to the lower angle heather and just bivy like we had planned. I consider myself a pretty calculated person, fatigue can strip that away from you no problem. We found a decent spot to bivy around 6300' directly under the actual DD late into the night. I mostly tossed and turned under a very bright moon and just thought about how I got a relatively cheap lesson on sticking to a plan and not forcing descent in the dark. Other thoughts were, "This trip was supposed to be about climbing a new mountain in a familiar place and get back to why you started getting out into the alpine in the first place." "Why were you trying to blast through it and force a car to car?" "How are you going to get out of here without an ice axe?" When I awoke I looked at the photo/overlay I had saved to my phone and saw the exact point for Doug's Direct. I felt so dumb. We ate and packed up and started heading up to DD. Miraculously, Matt found an old rusty pick axe head for me to use as an ice axe. Going down Dougs direct is mostly secure but I ABSOLUTELY wouldn't have wanted to do it in the dark. Then you're on the snow  below Mixup and then the Ptarmigan Traverse route. Luckily the snow was low enough angle that I didn't have to use my trusty new axe. I was looking for my lost ice axe the entire time. It was so nice to be on low angle snow and then a trail finally. This was an incredible trip on an impressive mountain. Just enough asterisks/ near misses to have it permanently seared into my memory. Very humbling.

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Scrambling low on the route.

 

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Downward traverse to the trees.

 

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Shwacking.

 

 

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East ridge descent.

 

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Rapping towards CJ.

 

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Looks like "Sound of Music" but all I can hear is my feet sliding and ankles twisting.

 

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Gear Notes:
Ice axe, Crampons, Approach shoes. 60m rope. Small rock rack. Work Gloves.

Approach Notes:
Spitting distance from the Cascade Pass trailhead.

Edited by kmfoerster
The damn autocorrect on this site.
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Classic J'Berg TR, you are in good company. Well done. 

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The stories that Ax could tell.

Congrats on yur adventure!

 

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That mountain doesn't mess around.  My partner pulled off a hold and took a long fall, severely injuring his ribs.  It took us many hours to come out the second day, limping along, followed by a trip to the ER.  Glad you escaped unscathed, at least physically!

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2 hours ago, kmfoerster said:

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My new ice axe.

Good reminder of the badass folks who worked the mines in these mountains.   I wonder what they'd think of us.  

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They'd think you're soft, Bronco.  =;-) 

There are two things I wish I'd had on that route in July1999:  heavy-duty garden gloves and a cell phone.  One of these wishes has been well documented.  Big Jim Nelson wishes he'd had more cans of grape soda.  Way to move fast on a route that can really sap your energy and mess with your head.  I'd like to think that Doug Walker was smiling from above and watching over you.

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Posted (edited)

I was thinking of your trip when I read this, John.

Edited by DPS

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JBurg always brings out the stories. Rockfall broke my finger in the C-J couloir first try. Made it with Dallas Kloke on the second attempt, his 7th!! summit of the monster. Then, another close brush with rockfall on the NE Buttress. I don't think I'll be back to challenge Dallas' summit record.

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no more iconic pnw mountain route, there's few memories i cherish more :)

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Amazingly, my partner and I climbed the 1957 route from bottom to top from 8/1-8/2 and never even saw Karsten and Matt, despite starting only one hour earlier! The 1957 start adds a few hundred feet of rock and jungle climbing, and we did belay three pitches before reaching the snow bowl where the 1951 and 1957 almost intersect. During the time it took us to reach that point, Karsten and Matt must have overtaken us. Nice work guys.
 

I’ll be posting up my own report this week. Congrats to you guys and all who have climbed this face... I have new respect for anyone who takes on this challenge!

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Do the 1963 NE ridge/rib and avoid all the bush! its a great route

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Perhaps next time, it'll be a while... Thanks for the recommendation, that part of the face is intriguing.

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18 hours ago, kmfoerster said:

Perhaps next time, it'll be a while... Thanks for the recommendation, that part of the face is intriguing.

I know the right most routes get pretty bad reviews but the 1963 route had good rock/pro and a few really nice 5.7ish pitches right before you hit the perm-snow up high. we did it c2c in about 14 hrs

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