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[TR] Constance - South Chute 08/10/2020


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Trip: Constance - South Chute

Trip Date: 08/10/2020

Trip Report:


With a weird forecast this week my son and I decided to convert our planned five-day  trip to the North Cascades to a more modest 2-3 day summit of Constance.  We headed over to the peninsula moderately early Sunday morning, arriving at a full road-end parking area with cars backed up the street for maybe 1/4 mile.  We found a recently vacated gap for our truck, unloaded the bikes and headed up.


Just over an hour later we arrived at the TH, did a gear adjustment and started uphill.  We were amused by the signage warning that the trail is not just a "hike", and by the party of three that started up it only to bail within 5 minutes.  We then powered through the worst part (the bottom) only to see that around 4000' it got stiff again.   We arrived at camp after 4 hours or so, a bit hot and tired.  We had plenty of time to wade in the lake, and enjoy the lack of insects.  Most people were gone already except one guy floating on the lake fishing (catch and release)

Lake Constance after sunset:


The next day we were up at 4:15 and headed up Avalanche Canyon.  There is almost no snow whatsover left there so we suffered through the tedious boulder hopping followed by endless scree up the S chute, down its other side, and up to the notch crossing the E-W trending spur ridge. 

All scree and no snow makes the S chute a dull boy:


On the far side of the notch there was still a snow patch melted back from each rock wall, and we walked along the one skier's left until it got too moated out, then got onto the snow (now flat with no bad runout), crossed it to rock, and worked our way to the finger traverse.  Once there we opted for the bypass on the way in, planning the FT if time and will-power cooperated on the way out.

Moat shenanigans (taken on return to camp):


The FT bypass


After the bypass we scratched our heads a bit about what to do. A really nasty gully led down and we didn't like it, so we traversed a bit, then found a still unsavory, but slightly better gully down to snow, crossed it and then started up the ledge system towards the summit block.  The next talus field was also devoid of snow, but not too tedious.  Then we were on the summit block and doing a corkscrew to get to the N side of the summit block.

View back to the Terrible Traverse and FT:


Working the cool ledges on this climb:


The final moves seemed a bit high end to solo for my taste.  After looking at a few options, I pulled out the rope to lead it.  But I ended up just placing one piece maybe 8 feet off the ledge, then topping out.  There was a new summit register dated 7/4/20 with a new rap anchor, but the webbing was shredded and we ended up carrying it down, putting new slings in (which may get devoured by rodents over the next days or weeks as well).

Olympic Mountain p0rn:


Another Smoot in the books!


One short rap led us back to regular scramble terrain and we began retracing our steps down.  At this point the fog rolled in.  We could see enough to get back to finger traverse.  Due to the time we spent getting to the summit, including getting gear out already for a short lead and rappel, we opted to just climb the bypass (super chill) then continued to the col on the E-W trending ridge.   The skies cleared for us here and we enjoyed some serious scree-surfing down to the basin below the S chute, topped the col, then did more scree-surfing into Avalanche Canyon.  Then and there the fun ended and we proceeded to tedious boulder hopping back to camp.  Arriving at 7:15 we decided to stay the 2nd night we had reserved on the permit, and hiked out early Tuesday morning.  The steep Lake Constance trail went by quickly thanks to fresh legs and Iron Maiden.  And the bike ride was a pure pleasure (about 30 min of coasting).

Retun to lake:


Gear Notes:
Ice axe, helmet, 40m rope, small rack

Approach Notes:
Talus, scree, more scree

Edited by KaskadskyjKozak
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Looks like a great trip! Excellent report! 

Do you think crampon would be needed given current snow condition?

Is longboard suitable for the first 5 mile road?

Do you think a 20-meter rope would be suffice for the summit rappel?


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3 hours ago, cobrak said:

Looks like a great trip! Excellent report! 

Do you think crampon would be needed given current snow condition?

Is longboard suitable for the first 5 mile road?

Do you think a 20-meter rope would be suffice for the summit rappel?


WE never used crampons.   I think a 30m rope would work  and possibly a 20.  Folks braver than us would probably just downclimb (exposed side is easier, less exposed part is steep and stiffer)

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