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TR: Yocum Ridge 3/1/03

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After securing great work as a guide in southern Utah following on the tail of an awesome five-month road trip, I found myself in an interesting predicament. I had only four days to: return home to Portland, pack all my things, and say farewell for now to friends and family...or go climbing.


High pressure and cold temps were enough to merit giving Yocum Ridge a toss, so I called up my pal Christian. After our great experiences on the Grand Teton's N face last July and then Salathe in September, I knew he'd be up for anything.


True to form, the predicted starry night we'd scheduled our 1am departure around was instead a socked in drizzly mess. Back to bed, another day perhaps.


Next morning, it's all bluebird skies and I get the call from Christian: "Have you looked out your window?"

Me: "I know, it's beautiful - but kinda late, huh?"

Christian: "Bring yer headlamp. I'm comin' over..."


We get to Timberline in time for an early lunch and a half-day skiing, but Christian still insists on doing Yocum. So instead we start the mindless trudge up Palmer to Illumination Saddle. There we get the first glance at Yocum Ridge, all rime-caked and wintry proud.


I got the first block and started us up a couloir below the first gendarme, then up the ridge's south side several hundred feet, until making the ridgeline after turning the second gendarme. Up to this point we encountered mostly 1" suncrust over sugar with patches of good neve and some styrofoam rime.


Taking the rime-ridge up to the third gendarme, I was bummed(excited?) to find out that reaching the rap slings and only available anchor would involve downclimbing vertical choss and knife-edge snow across to a small saddle. Then our lil' rope rapped us into a still kinda steep(65 degree) solo traverse off the rope back up onto the ridge. Maybe bring a 60m to avoid that. The north side(ala 'Climb High' guidebook beta) option off the gendarme seemed to lead us astray, so we just stayed on the ridgeline itself here.


Reaching the col above the 'escape couloir', I gladly turned the lead over to Christian just as the sun dropped below the horizon. Dunno where the actual route goes, but we took the first major gulley east of the 'escape couloir' until it dead-ended in a blank wall to the left and vertical/95-degree rime to the right. Christian pushed up through some pretty technical ground and brought me up to scout out our options. We were on a rime-fin to nowhere and had to traverse at least two more humps before we could get to something more probable. After some zig-zag negotiation, we finally found a couloir that topped us out on the Queen's Chair.


A little snack and some glove warmers were a very welcome reward. Having done the scraggly topout slog off the Queen's Chair too often on other westside routes, we opted instead for scurrying down Leuthold Couloir and straight to a warm booth at Denny's in Gresham! Aaaah...harsh lighting and bad food never seemed so good.


Rack: 3 pickets

2 ice screws

2 stoppers

6 slings

50m 9mm rope


We simul-climbed the whole route with hip belays where necessary. The pro wasn't much - but not as bad as they say. So get on it...it's a blast!

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Way to go! So if I understand your report correctly you did the traverse around the gendarmes rather than going up them correct? Nice feather in your cap. Did you actually place those stoppers?

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Marcus .... congrates to you and Christian. I too am curious as whether you traversed the gendarmes or took them straight on. Well done, have fun in Utah.

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