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layton

best of cc.com Big Four Spindrift Couloir TR

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Matt,

 

Let me get this straight. It's the media's fault that your family was concerned/worried?

 

You were the one that a) took 2 days to do a grade III+ b) Couldn't find the obvious descent gully and c) it was your friend that called SAR

Am I missing something?

I think the media was spot on regarding "hikers" because it sounds like you did alot of hiking.

 

Only on Cascade Climbers would people say "great job". Was this a Mountaineers outing?

 

I'm glad you guys are ok.

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No Sean,

 

It was not the medias fault that my friends and family were worried. It was our fault for not making better decisions regarding our descent. That should satisfy comments A, B, and C.

 

I was a bit dissapointed, however, as I'm sure you would be, with the initial reports which made it sound like one of us was totally inexperienced, that we were unprepared for winter conditions, and totally fucked awaiting a rescue. The reporting was not as dissapointing to my partner, whose had less contact with the TV media as I have. I've been dissapointed with their exageration and conduct before (much more so than during this incident), so this was a catalyst for a little venting of my media frustration. I believe the exact words of one report-though not King 5 were: "Rescuers had to use ice tools and crampons and climbed on walls of sheer ice to reach them..." They were some great folks, perfectly qualified I'm sure, and they put forth a lot of effort trying to locate us, but I'm left assuming that this part of the story was completely invented by someone in the newsroom cause it never happened. It just seems that the media (TV especially) should be held a little more accountable for the word play that they are selling as news.

 

And no, it was not a mountaineers sponsored outing. Witty jab on your behalf. Don't mistake my commentary as a passing of responsibility for our incident. I take full responsibility for it. And thank you, I'm glad we're ok as well. Matt.

 

ps-To the folks at King 5: If it was not your helicopter then I apologize for flying off the handle and making those particular comments. I think we both probably realize our respective dispositions and ought to put this one to bed. yellowsleep.gif

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Blight said:

 

You were the one that a) took 2 days to do a grade III+ b) Couldn't find the obvious descent gully and c) it was your friend that called SAR

Am I missing something?

I think the media was spot on regarding "hikers" because it sounds like you did alot of hiking.

 

Only on Cascade Climbers would people say "great job". Was this a Mountaineers outing?

 

Blight,

 

The history of Big Four is full of forced bivies. In most cases however, those bivies took place on route.

 

Dan Stage and Warren Gold stayed under an overhung rock about three quarters of the way up the face in 1979 on their route in the gully just left of the Central Rib. Joe Catellani and Gordon Adams were forced to bivy in a snow cave half way up the face on the first ascent of the central rib in 1982.

 

Dan Cauthorn and partner were forced to bivy on the summit.

 

Your misinformed on grade and difficulty. Kearny calls his line to the right of the Central Rib Grade III-IV. The line he describes may be the easiest line on the mountain.

 

There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of the routes on Big Four Mountain are Grade V. The guys who had to Bivy in the seventies and eighties were pretty strong. Not only that, but it's the routes that are Grade V, that doesn't necessarily include approach and descent .

 

Your tone is pretty sarcastic toward these guys. Though Big Four Mountain has received a lot of press on these webpages in the last year or so it hasn't been done that much. The reason is because the routes on this mountain are quite commiting.

 

Though these guys were late and they did have a hard time descending, they still completed a great route with a growing reputation. To equate them to a Mountaineers Outing gone bad is actually kind of offensive.

 

So since everyone who writes in here is -- in your opinion -- somewhat lame for saying "good job" to these guys, I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and congratulate them on their ascent.

 

Great Job Guys! I'm glad you got down safe and had an excellent time together!

 

Jason

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Well articulated response Matt. I wasn' t really aware of all those statements made by the media. Yes, I agree, they are quite ridiculous. That descent is not a straight forward walk-off and I doubt you guys will be the last to make that mistake. I hope you didn't take my jabs (hiker/Mountaineers) to seriously because they were supposed to be funny.

 

Peace.

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Wow, if they actually used the term "ice tools", then they're getting better. Usually it's just "ice picks" yellaf.gif

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Jason,

 

Yes, I'm familiar with the history of the mountain. I believe the routes to the true summit take even longer (than SD) - it is a big hill. I don't disagree with your comments. I don't know Michael and I hope he didn't take offense - that was not my intention. I know Matt, and yes, I was having some fun with him. I see how that may not have been apparent. I've always thought Matt was a strong and resourcesful climber and he did a good job getting himself out of an unfortunate situation.

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I would have to agree with blight on this one. Even though his post if quite funny there is a fair amount of truth.

Jason, I'm sure folks could debate this for years but if you are calling the north face of Big four a grade 5 then that means there are grade 10's out there because the face is not that hard and not that committing. I'm not blowing my horn but I climbed the face as a party of three and stopping to take many photos and we were back in town for burgers before it got dark. Sean and Andreas were back in town for lunch the same day, cutting probably 2-3 hours off our time. I know its not a competition but to call the face a grade 5 is almost as funny as seans post.

You folks our inflating the grades way to much. WI 5 on route? come on! get real!!

 

spray away

 

dale

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Dale,

 

You're right. There has been a lot of controversy over the last few years about this route and when I wrote grade five in the previous post I suspected that there would be some controversy over it.

 

However, I've heard strong climbers talk about this route on both ends of the spectrum.

 

In some cases people whom are very strong climbers have given routes on this face rather hard grades. The time they've taken to complete the routes has been far longer than one would expect. Though as you've said there also have been those who have come to this mountain and found the routes to be "easy."

 

I've been researching this mountain for a couple of years now and am convinced that there are bulges and such that appear some years and do not appear others. Also, it is not uncommon to find ground with very thin ice on it. As a result, perhaps I should reword my earlier statement to say, "routes on this mountain are often found in Grade V conditions." Indeed, in earlier write-ups I referred to the routes as Grade IV's, but the stories just kept coming in until I felt that the majority rule was leaning toward Grade V.

 

I don't know... Maybe it is Grade inflation. It's something I've been worried about.

 

There have been other reports of WI 5 ground in the vicinity of the route climbed by Mike and Matt.

 

I personally have not climbed the mountain in the winter. However, I have about a dozen stories of people who have and as stated above, the difficulty of routes in the same area tends to vary greatly.

 

Hope this makes sense as to why I posted what I posted.

 

Jason

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I'm relieved that we are all notching down our offense and defense. Sean, No worries, I should've recalled that a good razing would be in order from you. I knew that you and Andreas had completed the route before us and in much better style. Needless to say, I'm jealous of the lack of media coverage you had on that outing. Sean speaks from experience and it sounds like Dale does as well. I also owe an apology to the newsfolks. King5 and Newstips: I'm sorry for flying off the handle. Please excuse my banter. It sounds like you folks went to more of an effort to get accurate information than I originally gave you credit for and some of my comments about general media frustration shouldn't have been aimed directly at you.

 

Re: the grade: I think it's just totally dependent on what kind of condition you find the route in. Does anyone ever completely trust grades anyway? We found easier terrain on the route in great condition with good neve, we found the crux WI in thin condition (though it wasn't an exceptionally long pitch-probably only 35-45 meters-I took my time here above shaky protection, and we found a cornice which would've been dangerous to tackle straight on without worm holing-which took nearly two hours. Mike thinks the crux was WI5 and I tend to agree with him. I certainly didn't encounter any overhanging terrrain unless other parties have gone heroic at that cornice. If a party were able to climb the direct ice pitches on the lower slabby headwall, hours would be eliminated from the climb. Wallowing in thigh deep crust over powder over slide alder in the woods west of the slabs cost us about 2.5 hours.

 

Cheers everyone.

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daler said:

I would have to agree with blight on this one. Even though his post if quite funny there is a fair amount of truth.

Jason, I'm sure folks could debate this for years but if you are calling the north face of Big four a grade 5 then that means there are grade 10's out there because the face is not that hard and not that committing. I'm not blowing my horn but I climbed the face as a party of three and stopping to take many photos and we were back in town for burgers before it got dark. Sean and Andreas were back in town for lunch the same day, cutting probably 2-3 hours off our time. I know its not a competition but to call the face a grade 5 is almost as funny as seans post.

You folks our inflating the grades way to much. WI 5 on route? come on! get real!!

 

spray away

 

dale

 

 

Dude, calm down. No one is spraying or chestbeating here. I mentioned before that en route, we took 8 hours including cornice tunneling. That's not too slow. I'm sticking up for ourselves here. Plus, grades change with conditions. You've gotta understand this this years condtions are pretty fucked up. Our approach took much longer than when I've been up there before to scope it out because the snowpack is 60% below average so we couldn't go up any gullies cuz they were filled with moving water. The descent ridge was in awful awful conditions. I'm sure you and everyone else who's every climbed ice knows that conditions change and this year certainly provided hard conditions. Ask Wayne and David about Colonial and how good conditions were on that climb compared to how it was when other's have climbed it. I'm not saying anything about our ability compared to others who have climbed Big 4, but I stand up for Matt and Myself when I say we did the ascent in good fast style and we had bad luck on the descent. Who hasn't had a little epic before? Come on, lay off you've been there before too.

 

As for the other bickering on this thread...the News. Newstrips and King5 I have nothing agains you and I appreciate your being on the web here to understand climbing, etc... I think the heli may have been KOMO? Whatever...I'm not mad at the media, they're just doing what our society wants them to do. My only complaint is the Bellingham Herald's Sensationalistic article (or their sorce). B'ham Herald, you guys are no better than a supermarket tabloid as far as that story went.

 

I'll be sticking up for Me and my boy Matt for our climb and our good judgement endurance for getting us back after we done fucked up the desent. Once again, who hasn't epic'd, and if you haven't....you will! wave.gif

 

P.S. I'm not angry about anything on this thread..it's fully expected, and it's hard to put yourself in others shoes, be it us, better climbers than us, or the media.

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Michael,

 

i was not attacking you. Just trying to keep the grades where they need to be. I think you guys kicked ass. as far as the epic goes, there are two types of committed alpine climbers, those that have had a epic and those that will have one. good job on getting out. Did you guys have a compass? did you scope the descent from the belays on the climb?

Jason as far a grade goes- I'm talking committment grade not tecnical grade in reference to the grade 10. Maybe the WI grade was 5 but from the picture it looks like scary grade 4(it looks the same as when I climbed it).

This debate is the same as the one going on in the Canadian Rockies, does WI 6x mean its WI 7. No its just means it you need to be bold on dangerous WI 6.

The face should be grade 3+ as the approach is short and the face is easy to bail at any point due to the abundant trees to rap from.

 

Its all good!

 

dale

 

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michael_layton said:

Here is Matt digging the hole, the summit ridge, and me on top:

What happened to the big pics? These are so little now I can't make out a thing. I wanted to show my kids where you guys tunneled through the cornice, that is a great pic, except I can't see it!! laugh.giflaugh.gif Bring the big pics back please? tongue.gif

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daler said:

Michael,

 

i was not attacking you. Just trying to keep the grades where they need to be. I think you guys kicked ass. as far as the epic goes, there are two types of committed alpine climbers, those that have had a epic and those that will have one. good job on getting out. Did you guys have a compass? did you scope the descent from the belays on the climb?

Jason as far a grade goes- I'm talking committment grade not tecnical grade in reference to the grade 10. Maybe the WI grade was 5 but from the picture it looks like scary grade 4(it looks the same as when I climbed it).

This debate is the same as the one going on in the Canadian Rockies, does WI 6x mean its WI 7. No its just means it you need to be bold on dangerous WI 6.

The face should be grade 3+ as the approach is short and the face is easy to bail at any point due to the abundant trees to rap from.

 

Its all good!

 

dale

 

No offense taken Dale! We totally scoped out the descent from the climb, and yes we had a compass but the time that we realized we were going the wrong way it didn't matter. We didn't use it earlier b/c it just didn't seem possible that we could be going South!

 

As for the photos...are they big size in the Photo Gallery. Don't do a search using my name if your kid is watching cuz I've got that Marmot BJ shot! HCL.gif

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"Kids, play your cards right in life and one day you might be lucky enough to get head from a giant fucking rat on the side of the road, just like Mayor Layton once did!" fruit.gif

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Great looking mountain. Thanks for the tr with pics Michael.

 

Even though I haven't made the climb, I tend to agree more with Jason's assessment of the difficulty grade. Perhaps the snow/ice conditions could even effect the rating as much as a whole grade for a climb like this.

 

When the Nose is climbed in a couple of hours, does the rating change to grade I from VI? I think the climbers are getting better, with more information, etc. Maybe they've even done the climb a few times.

 

I think it's great to see all the fast climbs being done, in the Cascades and elswhere. Sean, Andreas, Colin, Mark, Dale, Kristi, Tim and many others are setting new standards for us all, but maybe the grades should stay the same? What do others think?

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this is great climb report and i am glad all american climbers are now home safe and full. may you continue to climb such routes and not question those with doubts

about grades and such this is for you to determine.

it is good for americans in this northwest to begin pushing limits as you say and follow as canadiens do to.

 

continue to train hard in preparation for the next climb and may good climbing be upon you.

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I agree wholeheartedly that we shouldn't change the rating or grading systems just because speed ascents and one-day ascents have become popular. I do think, however, that the N. Face of Big Four is probably one of the easiest grade V's I can think of and I'd be inclined to give it a grade IV. While I would not want to suggest the route isn't serious, or that relatively inexperienced parties should be encouraged to try it, I would agree that the approach is trivial and retreat is not difficult. Furthermore, although the face itself is 4,000 feet high, no more than half of it is really technical (frequently less) and there are, in reality, not very many hard pitches. For comparison, I have done Big Four and I haven't done Triple Couloirs or N. Face of North Peak of Index in the winter, but I would guess that Big Four lies between these two in overall difficulty and seriousness. What are their grades?

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it was givin IV+ WI5, what is this V shit all about? IV+ means a really long day for the average alpinist, those who are slower than average or who fuck up somewhere on route can expect to spend the night. sounds about right for the conditions I found.

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Mr._Natural said:

it was givin IV+ WI5, what is this V shit all about? IV+ means a really long day for the average alpinist, those who are slower than average or who fuck up somewhere on route can expect to spend the night. sounds about right for the conditions I found.

 

IV+ WI5 5.9 Mixed according to Mason et al's draft guidebook.

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cool climb. i always wanted to do some tunneling through a cornice myself, i am jealous as hell. thanks for the report. do you have any more pics to post?

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necro said:

"IV+ WI5 5.9 Mixed according to Mason et al's draft guidebook"

 

yeah, there was plenty of snow covered choss esp on the 2nd step. The crux pitch was thinner than later ascents (judging from pics I have seen) but still swinging, not hooking edges. We were forced to climb the buldge directly, cause thats where the ice was. I find the amount of spray that this route generates is amazing. My favorite was the guys that reported the "Spindrift 2nd Ascent" fully admitting to dogging the shit out of the crux, then suggesting it should be downrated. yellaf.gif I keep trying to stay away for all of these petty debates, but you guys make it way too hard. Matt and Mike thumbs_up.gif

 

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Natural:

 

You indicate disdain for those who spray on this route, but then you fling the crap yourself. Did "the guy who reported the second ascent" "dog the shit out the crux?" I was there and I think not. Nor did he indicate that the pitch was easy. What he did do was say that there was no 95 degree ice, no mixed climbing in the conditions that we found it, and that it was easier than the previous report had indicated. All who have done the climb since then seem to agree.

 

I agree, there is a lot of posturing and plenty of B.S. to go around....

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I indicated that the spray is entertaining, not that it pisses me off. To me hanging/resting on screws is dogging, you disagree? perhaps I have no right to comment however as I didn't lead the pitch. I know I am wasting my breath by sayingthat the conditions we had were much thinner and basically forced us to take a different line that later parties. I guess it is my fault for not breaking out the camara. The over-verticle bludge is visible in mikes pic but there is no way to prove we had to climb it so fuck it. Your partner was very forthright about challenging Barts description of the difficulties. There was no "conditions disclaimer" in his language.

wave.gif

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