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[TR] Himmelhorn - Wild Hair Crack and NE Ridge of The Chopping Block 10/04/2020


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Trip: Himmelhorn - Wild Hair Crack and NE Ridge of The Chopping Block

Trip Date: 10/04/2020

Trip Report:

This last weekend @willgovus and I returned to the southern pickets for  Himmelhorn's Wild Hair Crack and the NE Ridge of The Chopping Block. This was my third trip to the region in the last two months. Not sure why but I've been enchanted with the Southern Pickets this year. Met Will at the Goodell trailhead around 9am Saturday morning and began hiking up the old road bed. Not long we came up to the Terror Basin turnoff and I got to say, "Not this time!" We continued straight and came up to the crossing for Terror Creek. Will stashed a couple of beers for the way out. The big log in older approach beta is gone, but the creek is easily crossed with a bit of log palming, rock hopping and branch grabbing. Found the climbers path and made out way up to the ridge, which felt like it went quick with the aid of consistent hilarious conversation. The trail is easy to follow on the steep but when you get on the ridge it tends to fade in and out. But it never took too long to find it again and keep plugging away. The hike through stump hollow is mostly a pleasant slab approach. We got up to the pass and dropped some stuff of at camp on the ridge and then started making our way to The Chopping Block. We ended up climbing it in one simul block, taking a bit less than an hour from our camp to the summit. The NE ridge is quite good and definitely worth while if you're in the area. Both Will and I remarked on the quality of the rock and thought the climbing was pretty fun too. Ate, took photos and hung out on the summit for a bit and then got ready to head down. I think we got down with one 30m and two 60m rappels? The rap line on it is kind of funky. I ended up removing and replacing most of the anchors on the way down with fresh cord. Ended the Night with a great sunset, whiskey and dinner. Was a full-ish moon and clear sky. Never sleep that well with a full moon, too light sensitive I guess. Got up Sunday at 5am and started making our way over to Himmelhorn around 6. Travel to the Otto-Himmel Col through the cirque is pretty quick and pleasant. Spooked a black bear and sent it running. Not too much herbaceous side-hilling and the talus is pretty damn settled. The Otto-Himmel Col was nearly snow free as one would assume. Upward progress was slowed due to the shear amount of choss in that rig. Careful pitching out from safety zone to safety zone was crucial. We scrambled out of it on the left under a couple of smaller chockstones, the large one was still a ways up the gully. Again much care was needed making our way through the upper lefthand ledges. Arriving at the col we dropped off our axes and crampons which just came along for the ride for the whole trip and suited up for the climb. Wild Hair Crack is an amazing route on mostly solid rock, awesome holds and occasional looseness to keep you engaged. We ended up doing it in three pitches to the subpoint, With the third turning to simuling once on the ridge. The first two pitches are awesome crack and face climbing. The second is about an 8-10" crack, but doesn't require much chimney or OW technique to keep it at the grade. Plent of great holds all around it. It was nice to be able to throw a butt cheek in there when placing pro or taking a rest though. The first 20' or so is run out, the first pro I placed was a nest of two small stoppers on a thin crack on the right. Never found the #2 crack mentioned previously. From there the pro remained small, not sure I placed anything bigger than .75? The third pitch is much easier and the scrambling on the ridge is well featured for simuling and didn't find much need to place anything until the summit block. Theres an exposed flat catwalk before the last pitch to the summit. The summit is quite narrow, theres a few good spots to sit and take in the view. We did a single rope rap off the summit block and simuled back to the subpoint. We did 3 double rope raps down the route to get down to the col, two of which were pretty close to a full 60m. Be careful with your ropes on the way down, most of the rock is solid but theres pockets of chossy-ness. We had some rocks come whizzing overhead on the second rap. The last rap required a hair of scrambling to get to the col. We packed up our crap and started making our way down the upper ledges in the gulley, accidentally overshooting where we came up before. That was fine because that section sucked and we got back into the gulley with a rappel off a bomber horn. We had a nice fin of snow to hide behind when we pulled the rope but nothing came down. We ended up leaving a few runners behind on the raps. Every single piece of tat on route and in the gulley was either very old or had succumbed to snaffle damage. It was a relief to get out of the anus that was the late season Otto-Himmel Col. We reversed ur steps back to camp on the pass above stump hollow. We ran into that same bear on the way back and watched it gorge on berries with reckless abandon. We just sat and watched it for a while because the light was hitting the cirque perfectly and it was just a cool sight to see. I ended up rolling my ankle something good on a mossy slab on the way back. Didn't hurt too bad to walk on but got some good swelling and bruising. Got back to camp just at another glorious sunset. It got kind of foggy around dinner time and stayed that way until the middle of the night when it cleared again. Woke up at sunset and popped some ibuprofen with breakfast. My ankle was feeling alright but, what the hell. We headed out Monday morning and getting down to the creek crossing was a wet brushy car wash but felt really quick. Stopped to eat and drink the previously stashed beers for a bit. Between the ibuprofen and the beer my ankle was feeling great (still does, but a bit of swelling remains) and the trail back down to the car was a breeze. This was another great trip in this sea of choss and perfect alpine season ender!!

And of course the photo dump:


The Chopping Block



Chopping Block summit





Rapping off The Chopping Block



First night sunset



Triumph and Despair at sunrise






Late season Otto-Himmel Col





Wild Hair crack, we took the right crack on the first pitch.





Himmelhorn summit





Will making his way down the exposed catwalk



Rapping into the gulley from the upper ledges



Second night sunset





Current Terror Creek Crossing


Gear Notes:
Single set of cams .3 to 2. Set of stoppers. Six alpine draws, four double length runners. Half/twin 60m ropes

Approach Notes:
Crescent creek approach
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  • 2 weeks later...

right on, looks like a fantastic trip!

Wild Hair Crack is such a great route, right? great moves, great position.

and that middle section of the NE ridge of Chopping Block is sweet. its funny, i replaced webbing on several of the rap stations on that earlier this year, you probably replaced all the others! you can rap it fine with a single 60m rope, but the rap line is funky on the lower section. 

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