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[TR] Johannesburg - DD x2 08/21/2022


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Trip: Johannesburg - DD x2

Trip Date: 08/21/2022

Trip Report:


I took Doug’s Direct there and back yesterday. It’s a little tedious but quite scenic. I’m not totally sold on it. If I go back for the NE rib or a rock climb on the face E of it, I might try going early season and making a rapid descent from C-J instead.


This is how it happened - I was stoked to do the NE rib in a day, but awoke to a thick damp fog. I didn’t like the sound of soloing the steep slabs at the start if they were extra slick. Getting soaked in the brush and trying to navigate for 1 or 2 or who knows how many hours without being able to see the route was also unappealing. But since I had to work the next day I didn’t have time to wait around for it to burn off. I would come to regret abandoning the plan as the weather gradually improved. I think I let the route’s reputation get into my head too much. It probably would have been fine. Oh well, it was still a fun day out.

I decided to scramble Buckner instead, since I haven’t been there. A half hour into the hike it suddenly dawned on me that I could just take Dougs Direct both ways and pivoted to that plan. I had left rap stuff behind, so was committed to climbing/down climbing everything. This turned out to be a good move. There’s no reason to rap anything on the route unless you enjoy dodging rockfall.

From the notch N of Mixup I should have looked around first but instead I headed down, winding along dirty ledges until I reached scree. Tried to continue right and down but quickly realized I was in dirt/rock avalanche terrain, backtracked to the bottom of the ledges and traversed skiers left to a mix of rock and heather. I went this way all the way up to the notch on the way back, much better.

The huckleberries are IN. And the view of the Cascade glacier is incredible. The entire glacier is seen head on, with lovely meadows in the foreground. The steep side hilling seemed worst under the Triplets, but there really wasn’t a ton of it. There are many dry creek beds running down the bowl. You can use them to minimize slippery side hilling.

There was some unstable steep talus and a bit of hard snow on the way to C-J col. I felt like I was moving quickly aside from route finding issues coming down from Mixup, but it was still almost 6 hours from the car by the time I started scrambling up Jberg.

From the col the route was intuitive going up. Less so on the way down. I can easily imagine straying from the easiest path if trying to onsight the descent.

At the false summit the true summit looked pretty far and the ridge pretty crappy, but it was actually fun. A much shorter and dirtier sibling of the TFT, which it faces.

I lounged on the summit for around 40 minutes. Didn’t notice any summit register entries since 2020, but it’s full.

On the way down I collected many souvenirs. Didn’t bother with a knife, just grabbed the stuff that was lying around or loosely draped over rocks. Oh, the tales of epics this tat would tell, if only it could speak.

Not much to say about the descent. The huckleberries and cascade glacier scene went a long way to dulling the pain of the traverse. Route finding is harder going down, so it was slower in spots, but the Mixup notch was much smoother the second go around. So it took about the same amount of time car to summit as summit to car. Just over 15 hours round trip.

Gear Notes:
Axe, crampons

Approach Notes:
Doug’s direct. The best way to get to the notch is skier’s left / climber’s right side of the dirty slabby ledges, where it meets heather























Edited by JonParker
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Nice report; thanks.  First time I ever heard of Doug's Direct was this fabulous report and I still laugh every time I hear the name.  Also nice to get the history of the name from Juan Sharp.

"Doug will tell you a good way to get to Seattle from Portland is through Los Angeles!"



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Glad to see that Doug's Direct is still is use.  Doug would just smile and say that it "seemed pretty trivial, don't ya think" with his South Carolina accent.  The last time we had lunch together he picked my brain about our trip and my trip report (from 2004?) where we christened the ridge crossing.  As I recall, the Mounties had asked Doug to describe Doug's Direct for a revised version of green Fred.  For what it's worth, I still think Doug's Direct is objectively safer than down-climbing the CJ Couloir.  Jim Nelson, Bob Davis and I nearly got the chop in the couloir after climbing the NE Buttress in July 1999.  And of course we were "overdue," there was a helicopter with Kelly Bush following "congressional involvement," blah, blah, blah.  My Kingdom for a Cell Phone.  In any event, RIP Doug.

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From Calder Bressler as told to Harvey Manning. 

“Climbing over Cache Col we dropped down to Cascade Pass and leaving our packs at a good campsite south of the pass set out for the peak we called Elsbeth, now named Johannesburg. We traversed the talus beneath the Triplets gaining altitude gradually, traversed and climbed most of the north face of Cascade Peak, arriving at last on the col between Cascade and Johannesburg. By now it was late in the afternoon, but any qualms we might have had were dispelled by the mountain goat which appeared suddenly to guide us. Climbing the cliff west of the col we followed the goat, who kept at a uniform distance of 200 feet, leading us to the summit at 6 p.m.

Though now we had a few second thoughts, and moved with all possible speed it was dark before we regained the col. Rather weary and desperate we attempted to descend the hanging glacier that drops away on the north side of the col, and none of us came away from that evening with any love for clawing around on steep ice by flashlight. We were finally stopped by a gaping crevasse that spanned the entire width of the narrow ice torrent, and gave it up as a bad job.

Back over the col we groggily struggled, and bivouacked in a sparse meadow on the south slope, huddling all night over a small twig fire, scorching our hands and faces while other portions of the anatomy froze. At first light we carefully conducted our stiff bones the long way to Cascade Pass, circling on the south side of Triplets and descending a snow finger between Triplets and Mixup to our camp.” 


Edited by pms
cleaned up some mess
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Good to know this bit of history, Jim.  Those guys were animals.  We described the crossing to the best of our ability and gave it a name in jest, which for whatever reason has stuck.  Those cairns we found must have been from your pals in 1938.  Glad your new guidebook recommends this as Option 2, versus Vol. II of your first book, which suggested the scary Gunsight Notch as Option 2.  I see now that green Fred (3rd ed., fourth printing 2020) describes "Doug's Direct" by name, as well (see pgs. 274-275).  This is the way.

[TR] Johannesberg Mtn. - E. Ridge 7/12/2004

By Juan, July 14, 2004 in North Cascades

Posted July 14, 2004 (edited)

Climb: Johannesberg Mtn.-E. Ridge  

Date of Climb: 7/12/2004

We set a date many months ago, and the weather cooperated. We left Seattle Sunday morning (7/11) and left the car at the gate on the Cascade River Road (Eldo trailhead) at 8:45 or so. We reached Gunsight Notch in a few hours, and were bummed out when we looked down the steep gully on the other side. We knew the Gunsight Traverse is considered "tedious," but it also looked damn dangerous to descend. So we opted to try "Doug's Direct." This was an unproven means of getting over Mix Up Peak, and it worked like a charm.  

To do this (and we know from cairns on the back that we are not the first to have done so), proceed on the Cache Glacier to the upper climbers' right on the snow as if starting the Rowland Tabor route on Mix Up (the N. Ridge). Scramble straight up to the ridge crest instead of bearing left per the N. Ridge route (class 3-4). Don't go to the deep notch on your right, but rather look straight over the top. If you've hit it right, you'll see more class 3 on the other side, then a long passage of heather heading down to the alp slope that separates Mix Up from the Triplets. Descend on the path of least resistance. If you look at Beckey's green guide, the drawing that covers J'Berg to Cache Col has the words "alp slope" in the middle. Our camp was just above the word "slope." Room enough for two bivi sacks plus running water. Beautiful view spot with sun until late. We drank a pint of whiskey, took Ambien, and slept well.


Edited by Juan Sharp
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I actually thought the C-J Couloir was a pretty good and faster descent route (short memory no doubt). Who knows with crampons and axes the Ptarmigans may have continued their descent down the C-J. Of course that would have put them at todays parking lot, rather than their camp at the pass. Certainly they would have used Doug's other Direct (rt to the pass), so no problem there. A pretty good effort by those Ptarmigan kids knocking off a couple more peaks towards the end of their trip.

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