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JonParker

[TR] Cascade pass - Magic, Formidable, Mix-up, Sahale 09/02/2020

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Trip: Cascade pass - Magic, Formidable, Mix-up, Sahale

Trip Date: 09/02/2020

Trip Report:

 

First time S from Cascade pass for me. Wonder what took me so long. I guess the lack of good rock, but it’s really goddamned beautiful.

 

At the knoll before Cache glacier it was drizzling and the strong wind was blowing wet stuff up. I crawled under the leeward side of a small tree, one of the last I could see. Waited for 4 hours, cursing forecasters and getting bitter. I didn’t know that I was in for the most beautiful day in the mountains I ever had.

After those cramped 4 hours the weather was still very unsettled but improves enough that I could now see where I was going, so I headed up and over cache col. It was sunnier on the other side. Dropped camp at kool aid lake, pleasantly surprised to be alone, and headed up to magic mountain.
It lived up to its name. A crazy glory followed me all along the ridge. It wasn’t a fleeting thing. My first and last photos of it are 50 minutes apart. I had only seen photos of the effect till now, so I don’t know if this is common, but it had a large diameter bright white ring far outside the inner rainbow rings. The outer white ring didn’t come through in my photos. So surreal. I was also treated to sights reminiscent of laser shows when I was on the east side of the ridge.

That night moonlight gradually illuminated magic mountain but the moon itself stayed hidden behind Hurry-up peak until much later. Wow.

The weather was much calmer next day as I approached Formidable. Route passed above some significant crevasses on the Middle Cascade. Easy, but no-fall terrain, especially in the morning with icier snow. Formidable has the good, bad, and the ugly. Some soul sucking steep dirt and scree, some nice smooth but low angle and ledgy slabs, a scary rotten steep 15ft section just below the summit, and fantastic exposure along a short row of incisors to the summit. Yup, pretty fun overall.

Took a long break at the bottom of the glacier on my way back to watch shadows grow across the beautiful mess down below. Most of the abundant ledges here aren’t flat but there could be a spot or two for bivying. Would be very nice to do so if you can get comfortable.

A group had showed up to kool aid lake but there is plenty of room to spread out there. After dinner I walked north a little to pick berries. After having my fill I sat on a rock facing west and noticed a bear feeding down the slope maybe a 1/4 mile away. It seemed large and had a light brown coat, totally different than the smaller dark black bear I saw playing in a pool not far from cascade pass the next day. I don’t know if it’s possible it was a grizzly?

Then after another incredible sunset at camp in the dusk light popped up a creature I had never seen before. It had a long but tiny body, and was springy/twitchy like a pika or chipmunk. I think it was a weasel. But so much smaller than I pictured a weasel to be. It bounced around, locked eyes with me a couple times, then bounced off elsewhere.

Next day I got moving back to cache col to try to get Mixup and Sahale same day. Originally I planned to do mixup on day 1 but the weather prevented that. I found out about the East face route from@bellows TR last year (thanks!).

Found one small acceptable route down the moat on the upper right edge of snow. Gross steep dirt and rotten rock to gain the U notch. Wrapped around to the V notch and climbed up and left from there. It’s about 20 ft of I dunno 5.5 or so, but the rock didn’t seem very trustworthy. I only noticed one good spot for pro. It wasn’t terribly loose or rotten, but seem to be fractured into blocks that are probably not glued down all that well. So, beware.

White staircase was excellent as advertised. Class 2 until near the top where vertical walls force you right into class 4. There is a very brief awkward but not difficult 5th class move to gain the ridge just north of the summit. I did rap this part on the way down, and a rap to the V notch. The rap station above the V notch was, mmm, creative. Got the job done though. Back at the U notch I chose to rap on a fixed line hanging there. Not sure if that was a great idea, but it’s so dirty there, was nice to skip some of it. Still had to down climb a little bit more precarious garbage after that rap to get back to my overnight pack.

On to Sahale. Up till now I had enjoyed quite a bit of solitude. Knew that wouldn’t be the case back at the pass but I was still surprised at how many people were day hiking to sahale arm/glacier. This was less fun. Fun resumed at Sahale glacier. And I was pleased to find a nice short crack near the summit. There was one other climber summiting at the same time, after already approaching quien sabe same day, but turning around due to a sick partner. She was moving fast.

Wednesday weather had been so strange and amazing, then crystal clear Thursday through Friday, but Friday afternoon smoke had blown in. Views were still pretty great. Had some nice approach shoe skiing down the glacier and then all of a sudden I was back at the car, enjoying the drive through cascade river even more than usual.

 

Gear Notes:
60m rope for mixup, crampons, ax

Approach Notes:
Back and forth and back and forth

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Edited by JonParker
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Nice job, that is some amazing country!!  We were just there last weekend as part of the Ptarmigan Traverse. I am curious to know where you started scrambling Formidable from the last snowfield in the just below the summit basin.  We choose a gully feature on the far right (outlined in red below) and the climbing was good Class 2 or 3 all the way to the top with the exception of a loose section near the top.  But we topped out on the ridge well east of the main summit.  And the traverse along the crest looked loose and more like Class 4 or easy 5th to go along the ridge, down into a notch and then back up to the actual summit.  We ended up calling it good on the summit ridge since it was late in the day already and we needed to get back down to Yang Yang Lakes for the night.  Do you remember where you went up looking at the photo below? 

 

IMG_2453.thumb.jpg.25c29f77c5301c72b9f4c8425b9183ef.jpg

Edited by mthorman
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Amazing country for sure.

There are two toes of rock meeting snow in your photo. I crossed snow there and gained the nice ledgy slabs somewhere between those two toes.

 

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Love this TR and how you typically include all the beautiful details of sunlight and darkness and weather and little details ☺️ could you have seen a marten? I saw what I'm pretty sure was a pine marten on section J in 2014. Two of my all-time favorite photos...(it's so damned cute):IMG_5010.thumb.jpg.c014d36e5be12802a1bcc91fae2dbba0.jpg

IMG_5011.thumb.jpg.b265501b14c9b4ce54fd125d684ec8fd.jpg

Edited by Alisse
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@Alisse that sure is cute. Looks like he was hoping for you to hand over some Pringles or Doritos.

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5 hours ago, Alisse said:

Love this TR and how you typically include all the beautiful details of sunlight and darkness and weather and little details ☺️ could you have seen a marten? I saw what I'm pretty sure was a pine marten on section J in 2014. Two of my all-time favorite photos...(it's so damned cute):IMG_5010.thumb.jpg.c014d36e5be12802a1bcc91fae2dbba0.jpg

IMG_5011.thumb.jpg.b265501b14c9b4ce54fd125d684ec8fd.jpg

Thanks! Yeah it did look a bit like that. Smaller than a gray squirrel. Those are great photos!

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10 hours ago, JonParker said:

Thanks! Yeah it did look a bit like that. Smaller than a gray squirrel. Those are great photos!

Martens are much larger than squirrels. Maybe 20-24 inches in length, 10 inches at the shoulder. Sort of like a mini fox. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_marten

If you saw something that looked rather similar but was smaller than a typical gray squirrel it may have been a red squirrel. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_red_squirrel

 

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Watched a marten chase a douglas squirrel up and down a big fir finally corkscrew around the tree like barber pole the squirrel  was quick but the marten got him in the end, also had one trying like hell to get in our food bag one winter night at colchuck lake, they are one little badass.

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Super cool pictures of the Brocken spectre!  Those are special and I think fairly rare.  I've only seen one once, on Mt Deception a couple years ago.  Thanks for the write up.

 

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6 hours ago, bellows said:

Super cool pictures of the Brocken spectre!  Those are special and I think fairly rare.  I've only seen one once, on Mt Deception a couple years ago.  Thanks for the write up.

 

Ooh nice one!

 

On 9/10/2020 at 9:28 AM, Rad said:

Martens are much larger than squirrels. Maybe 20-24 inches in length, 10 inches at the shoulder. Sort of like a mini fox. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_marten

If you saw something that looked rather similar but was smaller than a typical gray squirrel it may have been a red squirrel. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_red_squirrel

 

Cool, ok it was probably the smallest variety of weasel around. Weasel shaped, but size of a squirrel, maybe smaller. Ermine is probably the winner.

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Nice chatting with you for a moment at Kool Aid. I'm stoked that you tagged mixup, it was looking burly. I was almost bulldozed by the black bear and cub above Cascade pass as they came out of some bushes less than 5 feet from me while I was turned the other way changing my shoes. Quite a moment! I wish we would have noticed the cinnamon bear below Kool Aid but we missed it.

Zack

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On 9/5/2020 at 9:28 AM, JonParker said:

I don’t know if it’s possible it was a grizzly?

Chances are slim to none.  Despite many years of trying to find evidence (hair snares, photo traps, etc.), there have been ZERO documented
grizzlies in the park.  I work with a bunch of wildlife bios and have followed this closely over the years.

Black bears are commonly cinnamon, which is why color isn't what you go on.  The shape of the head is key, as are long claws, hump on back, etc.  Here's a good summary:

blog-windigo-ours-versus-grizzli.png

But, more importantly, that is a HELL OF A LOT OF CLIMBING IN A FEW DAYS!  Yowza! :crosseye:

Well done! :tup:

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now i can see what you were describing on the top of sahale! that crazy rainbow halo thing. i've never heard of that before. fun reading your TR and seeing the pics!

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