lunger Posted August 8, 2021 Share Posted August 8, 2021 (edited) Trip: Phantom Peak, Northern Picket Range - West Ridge IV 5.7+ aka "WHAP"Trip Date: 07/30/2021Trip Report: "We have a problem" stated the leader of pitch 6. He had encountered an airy and cruxy 4’+ gap in the ridge and simultaneously observed a fresh plume of wildfire smoke erupting in the distant valley that marked the return home. His partner – who could not see him or his immediate problem, but could see the smoke – shouted “What?”, seeking clarification regarding which of many possible problems they had. The leader re-shouted “WE HAVE A PROBLEM”, apparently as if over intervening seconds, a realization intensified that perhaps this was a more general statement, one readily applied to anybody that comes to this place. The first step is acceptance... They quickly concluded that bailing halfway up the ridge would not really impart any advantage to dealing with the new (to be named) Bear Creek Fire, so continued tackling the climb. The pitch 6 problem, a long span across a hundred-plus-foot gap in the ridge, was easily the hardest technical move on themostly 5.7+ route—bound to be a “classic of the range”, as oft proclaimed at each belay. The route takes the right hand skyline to the summit spike well left of center (link to an album w/ annotated pic): The leader used a nut and a sling to create a handhold for tension and a more certain move across the gap. The second on this pitch cleaned the gear, and with the benefit of long legs and a top-rope, made the balance-y stem across the gap and the next move across – probably a V0 or V1 boulder move (5.10ish), depending on leg length. Two pitches later the duo topped out on a tower and rappelled approx. 100' into a notch. Pitches 8 through 10 were on generally solid rock with a pleasurable position. A total of 10 pitches of roped climbing gave way to ~400' of soloing to the summit ridge and traversing a sharp ridge to the summit -- exhilarating. The untimely arrival of the Bear Creek fire compelled us to forego other plans for the area and head homeward. As it turns out, a rainy afternoon through the next morning would have largely scuttled those plans anyway. That same weather pattern allowed us to exit via our entry route, as the fire was a bit north of our return route--thankfully, as the other exits would have involved an even more unsavory amount of distance and logistics. Folks with a certain taste might opine that we picked a plum with this route, as it offers mostly solid rock, modest vegetation, and enjoyable movement. Some high-hanging fruit is rotting on the vine, but this one was perhaps only a little overripe. More pics below. Looking up at part of pitch 1 and a fair bit of the rest: Rolf on pitch 4: Looking down pitch 6 at a chimeric rat-beaver, a fin on the ridge, and Mt Despair in background left: From the summit ridge, a nice view of Crooked Thumb and its subpeak Ghost, w/ the many peaks of Challenger in near background: Invigorating soloing on the summit ridge: From Perfect Pass, the fabulous Baker River drainage, filled with smoke: One in the party -- not gonna say who -- repeatedly urged a fire exit of the northern pickets via the brushy Baker River, convinced that his charm and/or good looks (yeah, after two days of bushwhacking) would score us a ride back to our car. The other was deeply skeptical of this strategy. The return along Easy Ridge under an increasingly smoke-veiled sun; don't worry, if you tire of loose talus and scree, many more paranormal modes of travel await: Here's a link to an album with more pics. Summary: Rolf Larson and Eric Wehrly establish a new route on Phantom via its West Ridge, aka We have a problem IV 5.7+. 10 pitches plus soloing. An obligatory John Scurlock photo of the ridge, extending toward the viewer: Gear Notes: Standard alpine rack. Also made use of tri-cams from fingers (black, pink) to thin hands.Approach Notes: Find the larger truth of the Easy Ridge approach – easy only in the middle – or take other long options. Making liberal use of granny gear with heavy-ish packs, over Wed/Thurs we took roughly 20 hours from Hannegan Pass TH to a moraine camp under Crooked Thumb/Ghost Peak. Generally budget 2 days, +/- a half day. Edited August 8, 2021 by lunger picstuff 3 1 6 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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