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Michael Telstad

best of cc.com [TR] Picket Range - Southern Pickets Enchainment 08/04/2022

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Posted (edited)

Trip: Picket Range - Southern Pickets Enchainment

Trip Date: 8/4-7/2022

Trip Report:

 

It's Pickets season folks!

 

Kurt and I were supposed to be in the Bugaboos last week, but unstable weather encouraged us to stay local and sample a little bit of what the Pickets have to offer. Between weather and work on Monday, we had a pretty tight schedule that was surely going to be a challenge. 

On Thursday we slept in and got a casual start. AM rain was forecasted, and "all" we had to do was hike in to the base of little Mac spire. As we drove north, the rain poured down. By the time we reached the trailhead there was blue sky poking through, but all the brush was thoroughly soaked. 

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The hike up went on for an eternity, and I was beginning to understand why the Pickets see so little traffic. By the time we made it to the alpine, we were drenched from head to toe, and the cold wind made for some rather uncomfortable slogging up to camp. Thankfully by the time we arrived, we were mostly dried out apart from our feet, which wouldn't fully dry out for another day. 

Day 2: Little Mac, East Mac, West Mac, Tower 1, Tower 5, Inspiration, Pyramid, Degenhardt.

A cold and windy night brought us to a cold and windy morning, but the clouds had finally cleared and we could see our first peak. The brush and soil on little mac was still wet from the day before which made for some pretty unnerving scrambling up the first half of the mountain, but once the sun hit things began to dry out. Little Mac and East Mac went pretty smoothly with mostly scrambling and a couple pitches of roped climbing to the summits. West Mac however provided a little more adventure as Kurt tried to quest up some roofs in the middle of the east face but was thwarted and had to downclimb half a pitch. Thankfully we found the easy way and were off to the races.

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The East Towers sucked up so much time, and honestly I don't remember what we did to get through them. Huge props to Jeff Wright for remembering all the beta and writing such a detailed trip report. I wish I had that good of a memory.... or maybe I'd rather forget. 

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Surfin' the East Towers

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Inspiration was Classic! By far the best climbing on route. Super straightforward, fun and engaging crack climbing. 

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A large panel of the west face of Inspiration fell off some time recently, taking one or more of the rap anchors with it. This involved some downclimbing between stations and lots of loose rock on the rappels. At least one new station would be needed to fully rap the face.

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Rapping through the rock scar

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"Hey Kurt, I found the anchor!"

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Low on water, we brewed up below Pyramid and rested for the rest of the climbing ahead.

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Kurt took the leads up Pyramid and quested us up into some hard 5.10 roofs that ended up bring the crux of the entire traverse. We still have no idea where that 5.8 chimney is. Or where we were for that matter.

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We forgot to take a picture on top of Pyramid, so here's number 7!

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Summit 8!

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Having lost a fair bit of time, we raged up Degenhardt at sunset. Racing the fading light, we traversed along the ridge over to the base of Terror and the supposed "excellent" bivy. We didn't have to climb with headlamps! A cold wind howled up the north side, sending morale plummeting. The only somewhat flat spots were on the frigid windy side of the ridge so after an unsuccessful attempt to rig up my tarp to block the wind, we opted to engineer our own spots to the south. We were both somewhat successful in digging out our own bivys, and went to bed late and exhausted. 

Day 3: Terror, The Rake, The Blip, East Twin Needle, West Twin Needle, Dusseldorfspitz, Himmelhorn

The next morning came too soon and we started with Terror for breakfast. The east ridge went quickly and the mountain most definitely didn't live up to the name. 

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Summit of Terror for the actual ninth summit.

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The Rake, similar to the East towers sucked up an incredible amount of time. We went too high on the first gendarme and had to downclimb the ridge to get to the 5.7 traverse. The rest was just slow route finding up along over and below the ridge. Low on water and with a lot of climbing still ahead of us. We brewed up again below The Blip, four more towers standing between us and camp, two of which being the 5.10 cruxes of the route.

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Summit 10!

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Wonderful rap anchor off The Rake.

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We cruised over the Blip and up the lower pitches of East Twin Needle. A little intimidated by the 5.10 crux, I took the lead up the spectacular knife edge ridge to where it kicks back to a slight overhang. With my pack feeling heavy, I sized up the moves above me, poked my head around to the left and balanced my way around the corner. Skipping the crux. 

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With that out of the way, we raced down up and over West Twin Needle and over to the base of the intimidating East ridge of Himmelhorn. As the only one who brought rock shoes, I took this crux pitch as well. Pulling around the corner I was greeted by a fixed nut, and wild face climbing on hollow sounding rock. It wasn't all too hard, but by feet and calves were pumping out from the heavy pack and everything we had done up to that point. Thankfully I pulled it off without a hitch, and all the hard climbing was behind us. This pitch is probably only around 10a/b, but I absolutely would have called it 10+ if I had climbed it as an onsight first ascent. The overnight pack certainly doesn't help. 

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Summit 13 and the east ridge of Himmelhorn trying to intimidate us.

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Dusseldorfspitz!

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Gipfel 14!

Day 4: Ottohorn & Frenzelspitz

The next morning at the Himmelhorn-Ottohorn col I woke up to sunlight casting off the mountains around us. I must have turned off my alarm at some point and fallen back asleep without realizing it. Kurt forgot to set one as well. Neither of us were upset by the extra half hour of sleep, but knew we needed to get things moving if we wanted to get out at a reasonable hour. 

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Don't roll over!

A quick jaunt up and down Ottohorn started day four. The effort of the last three days weighted on our legs, but the lack of overnight packs made it feel less like a chore. We carried a rope and rack up for the supposed 5.6 summit block, but they never saw any use. 

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Once back down at the col, we scrambled down to the north and around the east face of Ottohorn to reach Frenzelspitz. I don’t think we took the same route as Priti and Jeff, but regardless it got us where we needed to go at loose 4th class with tiny bits of low 5th. Continuing this trend, we scrambled up to the base of the last pitch of Frenzelspitz where Kurt took the sharp end and led us up a short pitch to our final summit.

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We have a serious problem. This was summit 16. Someone teach us how to count. 

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The descent went pretty much as expected. Lots of knee pain and schwacking took us around Crescent Basin, down stump hollow and out along Goodell creek. 

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Huge thanks to Wayne, Jeff and Priti for all the beta. I can’t imagine how much longer everything would have taken without those detailed topos for every climb and descent. Both Kurt and I were blown away that the FA team of three did it in almost the same timeframe as us, and even tacked on the Chopping Block! 

Gear Notes:
Single rack .1-2 doubles .4-1, One rack "nice" nuts and a half rack leaver nuts, 10 single runners & 4 doubles, 30 feet 5mm cord for rap anchors, 60m 8.5mm rope, Light Axe and Crampons

Approach Notes:
Over the river and through the woods, then up up up and some more up through more forest until you're finally in the alpine oh god.

Edited by Michael Telstad
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Wow, great TR!

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Home Depot...."you can do it, we can help".

What a trip!   And what a summer for the CC.com TR forums!   Thank you for the pictures, for the story.  That rap anchor...

We live right by this stuff...isn't that amazing?  Thank you.

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Start to finish, completely rad.  So much stoke, so much youth! 

Love to see the next generation at the height of their "storm years"!!

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Quite the summer this is turning out to be for all you guys! It’s like the mid 2000s all over again!!

It’s great to see “my work” become appreciate it after all these years. I had a feeling it would, I just didn’t think it would take this long. Just everybody stay away from that route I did On Logan, and we will all be OK!

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Great work guys, I really should go back to finish the second half of the traverse over to otto. I guess you didnt find the great natural shelter bivy I constructed about halfway between Degenhart and Terror, ~50 feet below the saddle crest on south side. Sheltered us from 12 hours of rain without a drop hitting our sleeping bags! Glad to see people getting after it! You even climbed Pyramid the right way...that OW didnt look enticing so we traversed left and went up the upper S gully instead...much easier class 3 in case anyone else doesnt want to climb an OW or some sketch 5.10

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Nice pics, we stopped after Terror (which dropped some terrifying blocks) but you make it sound cruiser after that. Hah!  

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On 8/24/2022 at 9:07 PM, Matt Lemke said:

I guess you didnt find the great natural shelter bivy I constructed about halfway between Degenhart and Terror

Oh no! That woulda been a dream. As you can maybe see from my last picture on day two, we were pretty strung out and racing the fading light to get to the base of Terror. Probably walked (stumbled?) right by it!

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