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bedellympian

[TR] Broken Top - Richardson-Rocket Link-up 12/29/2020

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Trip: Broken Top - Richardson-Rocket Link-up

Trip Date: 12/29/2020

Trip Report:

The Routes:

The Full Richardson is an ice route on the N side of Broken Top. First ascent by Clifford Agocs with Brandon Seymore. It is essentially one 35m pitch of WI4+ up the headwall of an amphitheater that you pass through on the North Buttress Route (listed in Oregon High). If this route were listed in Winter Dance it would probably be described as 150m WI4+ (pitch 1 optional WI3 30m or climb around on snow ramp, pitch 2 WI2 50m up the gully, steep snow up to the headwall, pitch 3 WI4+ 35m, rappel or climb steep snow up and right to a walk off)  The amphitheater seems to be producing more ice in recent years as winter temps increase. It was attempted several times by other locals starting in the 90's but rarely found in climbable condition. Based on what I saw on this outing, it seems that there are at least 5 possible routes for the confident smear/mixed leader. Here is a picture of me leading the main pitch...

IMG_1805.thumb.JPG.615f203f3d1dc0239ebfbe90fb57856a.JPG

The Rocket Launcher (has definitely been climbed by Pete Keane who calls it Rocket Launcher, this might also be called Cold Sweat FA by Aaron Lish, but that might be a different line, we're trying to track down more info) is a finicky ice line on the East face of Peak 9094 (Broken Top's South summit). Because it is in the Crook Cirque (the so-called crater) which is a South facing glacial bowl and East facing, it can be hard to find in good condition. It starts up some easy ice mixed ledges for ~50m (exposed WI2/3 when fat) and then climbs a beautiful gash feature which is steeper than it looks into a hanging bowl (55m WI4, probably deserves an R rating most of the time). From there the obvious course of action is to just climb the easy snow for 90m to the summit ridge (often corniced), and then either head up to your R and tag the 9094 summit or down and L until you can down climb open snow slopes to the valley below the glacial moraine. Here is a recent picture...

IMG_1780.thumb.JPG.f48b908d757bca36e0e4c7a1bc320ef8.JPG

 

Our day:

Clifford Agocs and I used a sled to get to the wilderness boundary by Ball Butte just before dawn. We opted to boot (not recommended, but our desired linkup and Landon's success booting on the rain crust on our North Sister climb the week before convinced use it would be okay, it was just okay). We hiked around BT via No Name Lake to the Bend Glacier and transitioned to crampons etc. at the base of the North Buttress Couloir.

We soloed the approach pitches to the base of the Full Richardson and I got the sharp end as Cliff had already snagged the FA. Ice was in difficult condition (brittle but sticky to get the tool out again), definitely solid 4+ in the Rockies, Cody, etc. similar to steepness to leading Cleo's at Hyalite when it's fat but without the hooks. On top anchor options were limited. I dug down, bottomed out some screws in decent ice and tied them off. We then unroped and front pointed the snow up to the summit pinnacle and followed the standard scramble to the summit. 

We down climbed the summit and made one short rappel, then we traverse the W face to the top of the 11 O'clock Couloir. We tried to saw the cornice with the rope but its a big ice block with the weather we've had so Cliff body belayed me down next to it to check the snow before we both committed to down climbing. 

Once in the crater we traversed over to the base of the Rocket Launcher and soloed the first few steps until aerated ice and snice over some steeper/exposed rock made us rope up. I lead ~15m to a belay stance just R of the the crux pitch (left a fixed pin for ya). Cliff lead the next pitch in lovely spindrift conditions which started on good WI4, involved stemming through vertical snice, and climbing easier alpine ice up to a short vertical pillar. The pillar was pretty awkward so he brought me up and I got to lead the vertical ice into overhanging rock with an awkward move left, digging through snow for a stick and hooking a blob on the overhang to skate my way through (not hard per se, but definitely some of the more awkward ice I've climbed). I made a belay in some rock 15m up and then we simuled the snow up the bowl and gully above to the ridge.

We hiked back to the sled in the fading light. Luckily the increasing winds were at our back, though the variable drifts made for some frustrating post-holing at times. Roughly a 12hr car-to-car.

Pictures: 

Leading the Richardson...

IMG_1804.thumb.JPG.05a05625f43124d9bd10ec2ef9120ccc.JPG

Cliff topping out Richardson...

IMG_1787.thumb.jpg.8f5e80ea2d1677e9b3dfd2f187f390fe.jpg

BT summit shot, Rocket Launcher climbs a hidden cleft on the L face of the peak on the R (Peak 9094)...

IMG_1790.thumb.jpg.629b699e260557502fd1252be5e607e3.jpg

Approach ice on the Rocket Launcher. You can just see the main ice in the cleft in the upper middle of the photo...

IMG_1795.thumb.jpg.606a44273b5220349c20d444128e5787.jpg

Cliff leading the main pitch on Rocket Launcher, he's just above the difficult snice section and you can see the awkward pillar poking into view at the top of the gully... 

IMG_1797.thumb.jpg.0b91c1500d86d0bd3c04a4fc9f895c78.jpg

Gear Notes:
1x stubby, 4x 13cm, 3x 16cm, 1x 22cm, 2x knife blades, smallish nuts, long slings, 6-8 alpine draws, 1x 60m half rope

Approach Notes:
Sled + slog

Edited by bedellympian
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Here is a rough approximation of our route in caltopo for those interested... 

https://caltopo.com/m/B36T

Also, for those without a sled, this would definitely be doable with a skinning approach. I've certainly done individual routes on BT in an ~8hr car-to-car this way and you can also camp out near the peak as I've done several times.

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