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Michael Telstad

[TR] Chair Peak West Face - [FA] The Upper West Side (WI4+ M4) 01/18/2021

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Trip: Chair Peak West Face - [FA] The Upper West Side (WI4+ M4)

Trip Date: 01/18/2021

Trip Report:

Yesterday @Doug_Hutchinson and I skied out to the west face of Chair with low expectations and too much weight on our backs. As far as I can tell, this face has seen little to no winter climbing activity and was completely off my radar until @Kyle M showed me some photos. 

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Our route started by slogging up ~700ft of steep firm snow with a couple easy ice chokes along the way. Nothing worth roping up for. The sun starts hitting the lower snow slopes around 10am, so I would recommend timing things so you start climbing no later than 10:30. 

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After the slog we arrived at the head of a small alcove where we kicked out a platform and roped up. Gear for a belay is hard to come by, take what you can get.

I took the first pitch which ended up being a tricky 20m M4 left facing corner system. Nothing was ever really that hard, but protection was difficult, and the rock quality left something to be desired. A really cool looking super direct mixed pitch can be found just to the right and would probably go at M7. 

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Doug then took the lead on the money pitch. While only about WI4+, this pitch proved to be a pretty serious lead. The crux required climbing into an alcove behind a detached curtain, grabbing a rock hold with your right hand and swinging over a bulge above your head. Not your usual WI4. This pitch took good 10 and 13cm screws, but not always where you want them. One could probably bail back to the snow from here with 2 ropes.

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Moving forward we climbed a full 65 meters of scrambly snow/rock/ice up to a scottish looking headwall, and up a ramp to the left. Belay off a small tree that may be buried in different conditions. I have a hunch you can go either right or left, not sure which is easier. 

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A short sketchy mixed pitch took us up to the false summit. Not hard, just tenuous and poor pro.

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^Placing the only piece on the pitch

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^The piece

The route finished with a classic Au Cheval alpine ridge traverse with snow and ice on the north side, and warm dry rock on the south. This traverse is VERY poorly protected, and definitely not straight forward. 

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Descent: There are two good options for the descent. The best option by far, is to do this route as a carryover, foregoing the skis and descending the normal route to the east. This requires very firm conditions, but would be much shorter. Since we left our skis in the Melakwa valley, we were forced to descend that direction via a long snow gulley opposite of the standard rappel anchor. The first rappel shares the piton anchor with the standard descent, just in the opposite direction. We left a piton and nut anchor 60M down to the left for future parties. This rappel only got us half way to the next worthy tree, luckily the snow was good for down climbing, but we were well aware of the exposed cliffs below. Two more raps off trees took us to the schrund.

Ski back over Bryant col, or for bonus points, continue out via the second half of the Chair peak circumnav in the dark.

Link to my Strava track can be found HERE for approach and descent help.

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Get on this climb! We thought it was pretty classic, and likely not in good condition very frequently. Reach out to me with any beta needs!

 

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Thanks to Kyle M for this photo! Green is the route, Red is the descent, and the Yellow dots are rap anchors. The last rap is in a bushy tunnel that may be difficult to find for future parties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gear Notes:
Single rack .2-2, stoppers, KB's and Bugaboos. 6-10 Screws 10-16cm most useful. 2 Pickets brought but never used (per usual). 60m twin ropes.

Approach Notes:
Ski or boot up and over Bryant/Chair col via pineapple basin. Descend over to Melakwa lake, and up to the base of the wall.
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22 minutes ago, The Real Nick Sweeney said:

How long did the approach take you?

About 3.5hrs with a 6am start. Should have left earlier as all of the ski out ended up being in the dark.

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I remember in January 2019 when Jacob and I reached the top of the Melakwa Flows and turned around and laid eyes on the beauty. We remarked how it could be "the Winter Dance of Snoqualminix!". But it was far above our pay grade at the time. So psyched someone could finally go send it.

Some more enticing photos of it, from a scouting trip around Christmas 2020.DSC05636.thumb.jpg.2695febc2c424aae349740c7fe109893.jpg

Top of the flow is visible in the bottom right.

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Visible once again upper left of the image.

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Perhaps the first ever double Chair climb/ski orbit in a day! Like Michael said, the best way to do it would be sans skis as a carryover but then you would miss thousands of feet of skiing icy avy debris in the dark, where's the fun in that?

Edited by Doug_Hutchinson
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16 hours ago, JonParker said:

It’s sketchy, go get it! ;)

I would like to point out that we intentionally didn't give it a PG13 rating. We thought it protected adequately for this type/difficulty of alpine climb, but was certainly no clip up. :D

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Sweet; way to sniff out another fine adventure in our back yard!

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On 1/19/2021 at 6:00 PM, Michael Telstad said:

About 3.5hrs with a 6am start. Should have left earlier as all of the ski out ended up being in the dark.

Wow, nice work. Interesting to read

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