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[TR] Argonaut - South Face 08/14/2022


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Trip: Argonaut - South Face

Trip Date: 08/14/2022

Trip Report:

I've been out to the Teanaway (Teanaways?) several times this summer and it's been pretty awesome to become better acquainted with the area! For this trip, D and I decided to haul gear up to Argonaut's south face for a supposed "5.3" route. "What is the difference between 5.3 and 5.6?" I asked myself...

We hiked in via Beverly Creek then over Fourth of July Pass on Saturday late afternoon and camped at Ingalls Creek. In the parking lot, we met Jennifer and Chris, also heading to do the same route!

In the early evening, two climbers came down back to their camp at Ingalls Creek from Argonaut and gave us some approach beta, said that there's a legit "climber's trail," and shared that it took them 3 hours from camp to summit (via the 4th class scramble route; they soloed everything/didn't rap). Wow, we thought! Maybe we will be out of here way earlier than we expected!

We set off from camp a bit past 7am and quickly found a solid trail up through the scrubby open-ish eastside forest. Very unfortunately, it did not last forever, and some B2ish schwack ensued between pieces of game trail until we got into more open meadow with sandy trails. OK, all good.

Not my favorite part of the approach:



A much more scenic part of the approach:


At this point, we aren't sure what happened, but we clearly did not pay enough attention to the navigation/GPS and we crossed into a gully too far east, thinking it was the main gully, and started ascending. We realized our mistake a bit on the later side and tried to carefully poke out a way to traverse west into the gully that we wanted, but after some 4th class stuff ("accidents often happen when people are off-route..."), we decided to go back, down, and around. Welp, that was fun exploratory bonus el!


Up and up the gully, D and I being careful not to trundle things onto each other, then finally at the base of the south face. We used a Mountain Project photo overlay to locate the start the 5.3 route, and it really looked like the picture.. but anyway, that first pitch we ended up calling 5.8. Lots and lots of options on the face, lots of cool features (some chicken knobs, crystally ledges, etc), cracks, and good pro. Definitely plenty of lichen and lots of loose and jumbled blocks in cracks, as expected. I ended the first pitch at a small alcove with a giant block that was slung that I stumbled upon (the sling looked kinda old). I apologized a bunch to D for clearly getting us off-route, but she was grateful we were getting up it and safely. Very nice of her :D The second pitch was much easier -- I did go around a chimney feature due to the pile of microwave blocks sitting in it and then I traversed right at the top, all to keep the rope from dislodging rocks onto D. I chatted a bit with Jennifer and Chris, who had started where we did but had followed cracks trending to climber's left and had topped out a bit before us.

Bringing D up to the top of the second/last pitch:


Anyway, we scrambled to the top, got cool, up-close views of Colchuck and Sherpa plus FOUR volcanoes, and then we scrambled down to the rap station for the 50-foot 4th class gully.

One of the amazing views from the summit:


Some photos of the face, from below after rappelling:



Descending the gully:


As the talus gully became meadow and then forest and stripes of slide alder, we started on solid trails and then...very unfortunately, had a hell of a time finding our way down to the main trail. Time is meaningless when you're trying to be zen in slide alder,  but this was some of the more memorable schwacking I've done in awhile.. and on the east side! Oh, but we did come across what I think were some bones of a mountain goat?



Finally made it down to camp, apparently our friends hadn't fared much better than us on the descent. Our 6-ish mile hike out went very quickly due to D's blazing speed and pace-setting which I was so grateful for!

Good bye, Argonaut, I am glad to tick you off my list. I wish I could get a ride up and just play around on that south face, but I probably won't be going up there again (at least until this memory fades).



Jennifer and Chris, it was lovely chatting with you two throughout the weekend and it was very sweet of you to wait until my Civic cleared that washout/rut on the forest road before driving off on Sunday night. Thank you!


Gear Notes:
60m rope, single light rack, rock shoes, fully engaged trail-ish senses, fully engaged quiet feet

Approach Notes:
up, down, up, up, up...I'm sure you're better than me at finding those trails!
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