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KaskadskyjKozak

[TR] Mox Peaks - NW Peak (Easy Mox) - NE Ridge 07/24/2021

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Posted (edited)

Trip: Mox Peaks - NW Peak (Easy Mox) - NE Ridge

Trip Date: 07/24/2021

Trip Report:

It's been a long journey tackling the Bulger list.   And what a way to end it - with a long journey!  A long fucking journey!

In 2019 I was committed to slaying the beast, tackling 14 of 16 remaining Bulgers only to get blocked in late August in the Chilliwacks when we cut the trip a day - and a Mox - short due to an injury.  Oh, well, that just left me with just two peaks to clean up in 2020 - Buckner and Easy Mox.  Easy enough.  Then there was COVID.

As the border closure continued into June 2020, I began researching approaches from the US side for Easy Mox.  No option seemed appealing, but two stood out as viable options:  a high traverse via Whatcom or approaching via Silver Creek.  I procrastinated, hoping the border would reopen, then finally tried each - and failed - in late summer.   I utterly underestimated what these approaches would take, and despite being in great shape by that time of year, fell short.  Oh well,  I could just do the standard approach in July 2021, right?

When it was obvious the border would not reopen in July, I began planning again.  I coaxed and wheedled friends to try to join me for weeks - after all, who wouldn't jump on such an opportunity, especially to take multiple days off of work for a death march?  The amazing weather we have seen in July held and held and held.  The stars aligned on climbing partners.  I pulled the trigger.  There were three of us:  my son, Jorge, and me.

Applying lessons from my failed attempt in August 2020, I split this trip into a 5.5 day itinerary, which went as follows:

Day 1:  Evening hike to camp at Hannegan Pass.  Not much to say here except we arrived later due to traffic and started up at 8 pm.  So glad I built in buffer to my itinerary!

Day 2:  Got up early-ish and hiked trails to Whatcom Pass, then took by-trail towards Middle Lakes, camping by a small tarn with awesome views of Challenger and Whatcom.  The tarn was warm and we even got to clean up before dinner.  (7:15am - 5:15pm). 

Day 3:  Got up early and did the high traverse, camping on slabs above Bear Lake, SW of the saddle extending below the SW-trending ridge extending from the SE peak of Redoubt (6 am to 7:30 pm).   We had a small pool with running water *at* camp.  The high traverse was inspired by a TR from a few years ago.  In summary, we summitted Taps mountain, then traversed ridges NE-ly to the lake below Cave Mountain (Pass Lake?).  We then traversed NW towards Bear, then NE towards Redoubt.  Our biggest time sink on this day was due to bush-whacking through hideous, thick trees on steep slopes getting to the upper basin above the Pass Creek drainage.  We took 3 hours in this section.

Day 4:  Long fucking day (6 am to midnight).  This involved traversing to the ridge on the Depot-Redoubt Divide, traversing the Redoubt glacier, climbing the route, then doing it all in reverse.  

Some detail on our long climbing day:  We ascended the SW ridge of the SE peak of Redoubt until about 7200', then downclimbed about 100-200' to talus and traversed to the first point we could cross on the E ridge of the SE Peak of Redoubt, roped up, then walked the glacier over to a fine snow ramp leading towards the low point on the NE ridge of Easy Mox.  I led a full 60m pitch up the slabs above the snow ramp, only to be stopped about 30 feet short of scramble terrain, and then led a very short second pitch to the top rap anchor.  We then scrambled the ridge.  Holy shit, what an amazingly exposed, improbable ridge!  We found the gully off the ridge easily and scouted out the final pitch and settled on two options.  I tried the easier one (we had a picture from an online TR that made it look like the right start) but it dead-ended on the ridge so I downclimbed.   Jorge then led the other option (which was correct) and set up a belay at the bottom rap sling.  We then solo'd the final 25 feet or so (up to the higher rap anchor).   We did two rappels, downclimbed the ridge, then did two more rappels.  We were super careful to not get any ropes stuck on our pulls!  It was now around 8 pm.  We roped up and crossed the glacier which was very soft after a full-day of sun exposure.   We essentially retraced our boot path, but punched through opening crevasses twice (on the eastern lobe of the glacier).  As we rounded the rock spur to get to the W part of the glacier, the sun set and we unroped by headlamp.  We then miraculously scrambled boulders, talus, and scree back to camp with minimal issues.

Day 5:  Slept in (8 am) and did the traverse back to our camp from Day 2.  We got a late start due to the previous long day.  It was hot and sunny - the hottest day so far, and we were grateful for lingering snow patches and fresh running water in many places.  We followed a much better contour from the upper Pass Creek drainage back to the NE ridge of Peak 6874 which took us less than half the time to do.  Bugs were bad at camp - noticeably the worst of the trip so far. (10 am to 8:30 pm)

Day 6:  Got up early and did the full 17.5+ mi hike out to Hannegan Pass.  Bugs were hideous in the final few miles to Hannegan Pass. (6:30 am to 6:30 pm).  

Bulgers done.  100/100.

Now for the pics!

View of high traverse from the summit of Taps Mountain.  Redoubt looks *far* from here:

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Views South from Taps Mountain.   We were surrounded by these amazing views above treeline continuously for four days:

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Looking back at the first part of the high traverse from near and below Peak 6874

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Indian Creek Drainage from the traverse.  Bear Mountain on left:

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Traversing the lake above Pass Creek and below Cave Mountain.  I believe it is called Pass Lake:

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Nearing the end of our traverse and camp.  Redoubt is finally close!

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Summit Day taken just above our camp.  The Moxes still look far.  We had a lot of talus to traverse just to get to the glacier!  

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Finally on the Redoubt Glacier!

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Looking down P1:

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Hard Mox as viewed along the N ridge of Easy Mox.  The exposure and views are unbelievable!

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Summit views from Mox back towards our traverse:

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Spickard, Custer, Rahm.  Been there, done those:

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Shuksan, Baker.  Ruth looks far!  TBH, I was not looking forward to the long walk back to Hannegan when I took this pic:

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Jorge on the summit:

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My son and I on the summit. 

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KK rappelling.  This, along with one I have from Storm King are my two favorite rap photos ever!

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Redoubt as the sun got lower in the sky and we downclimbed.

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The sidewalk in the sky:

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Longer view up the NE ridge:

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At camp on day 5, getting ready to traverse back to Middle Lakes:

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Looking down the Indian Creek drainage.  Taken on the traverse back to Middle Lakes:

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Taken from a point about 6400' - the high point on the NE ridge of Peak 6874 that we climbed after the traverse above the Pass Creek drainage (right of frame, mostly out of view, blocked by the ridge):

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East Lakes as viewed on the traverse, near Taps Mountain:

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Descending to upper Middle Lake:

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Gear Notes:
60m rope, mid-sized rack, helmets, glacier climbing gear

Approach Notes:
Long, brutal, epic.

Edited by KaskadskyjKozak
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Congratulations on completing the Bulger list. And thanks for the beautiful photo layout. 

I climbed those peaks and Spickard with a couple of guys who were attempting that list, so I know how motivating these things are. Hope you can continue being motivated!

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FYMF!!! Congrats on finishing those 100s, and to do it with your son in the trip, double happiness!! BTW, way to go, Stephan, and hope to meet Jorge some day. Awesome pics, Dude!

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Awesome trip report! Congrats on 100. Hah, now you gotta finish the Smoot list. So inspiring to see the father/son trips.

Also super cool seeing the next generation on this site!

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23 minutes ago, bellows said:

Awesome trip report! Congrats on 100. Hah, now you gotta finish the Smoot list. So inspiring to see the father/son trips.

Also super cool seeing the next generation on this site!

Just 10 Smoots to go!

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Wow.  Even better to do it with your son!  Awesome!!!!

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Great trip report!  Congratulations on the Bulger 100.  Excellent information for that area.  I've been thinking of a trip out to those peaks but the time requirement and distance always has me picking something else.  

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23 minutes ago, Kuato said:

Great trip report!  Congratulations on the Bulger 100.  Excellent information for that area.  I've been thinking of a trip out to those peaks but the time requirement and distance always has me picking something else.  

Thanks, man!

When the border is open you can get in there as a 3-day trip.   4 days can get you 2-4 summits depending on which ones and your speed/efficiency (I am old and slow).   Word is the border may open soon.  FWIW Spickard is the easiest, with Rahm and Custer a close second.  Custer is a POS though and only worth doing to finish the bulger list.

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Impressive. Beautiful. Stunning. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
congrats for completing such a prestigious list, but more valuable are the experiences and the memories you now have. 

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3 hours ago, mountainsloth said:

Impressive. Beautiful. Stunning. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
congrats for completing such a prestigious list, but more valuable are the experiences and the memories you now have. 

Thanks man.  This list was hateful.  But it gave me so much, I can not even express it.  

What a way to finish.  I'll never forget this trip.  Ever.

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way to put it together....that's a lot o' walking. has your son caught the bulger bug?

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15 hours ago, rat said:

way to put it together....that's a lot o' walking. has your son caught the bulger bug?

after this trip he said he's done bulger hunting :)  but i'm sure he'll forget and be back.  he solo'd the gardners earlier this year

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