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TeleRoss

first winter ascent [TR] Mt Buckner- North Face 2/20/2004

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Climb: Mt Buckner-North Face

 

Date of Climb: 2/20/2004

 

Trip Report:

Sky, Corey, and myself left Seattle butt-ass early on Thursday morning with plans to climb and ski the north face of Mt. Buckner. After a brief delay to discuss speed limits on hwy 20 with Trooper Joe, we were on our way up Cascade River Road. We were stopped by a large blowdown just past m.p. 18. One final gear organization, and we set off walking up the bare road. ~1/2 mile later we found continuous snow and were able to start skinning. The trip up the road was uninspiring as the views up to the peaks was obscured by low hanging couds. We left Cascade River Road just past Midas Creek. Skinned through open slopes and timber generally following near the creek until we broke above timberline. Here visibility began to become an issue. Solid white out conditions made the going a little slower than normal. But periodic clearings gave us glimpses of the route up towards the Quien Sabe Glacier. Up and around the moraine, and it was moderate slopes all the way up to near 8,000'. There the clouds broke and the peaks began to appear. Johannesburg, Forbidden, Eldorado, Boston, looking like islands floating in the clouds as the layer began to lower and break apart. We camped at ~8200' below a rock outcropping very close below Boston Peak. The next morning crystal clear skies greeted us and lifted spirits. After a leisurely breakfast and gear packing session we were off. Sky lead up the slopes towards the notch immediately S. of Boston Pk. that we were hoping to use to gain access to the Boston Glacier. Postholling was a pain, but it got worse as we entered the gully and encountered sloping slabby chossy crap covered by powdery, thin snowcover. Crampons were employed and a few tricky moves over a couple of rock steps led us to a steeper snow gully leading right for the notch. Sky was leading up and when he shouted "Holy Shit!, Holy Shit!" I thought that things were either really really good or really really bad. When he yelled again, "It's all good!", all questions were erased. The Boston Glacier reached right up to the notch where we were standing, and rolls endlessly away to the NE. To the E. was Buckner with the NF clearly in view. Man it looked sweet. With little time to enjoy the views we donned skis and enjoyed nearly 1500 v.f. of pure Boston Glacier pow. From our low point we put skins on and began climbing towards the face. And we kept climbing, skinning all the way to just past the bergschrund. There we strapped skis to packs and kick-stepped up the face. Climbing was straightforeward, and moderately steep. Highly enjoyable, with the Boston Glacier rolling away far below. Summited at 2:00, and enjoyed the views to peaks in all directions. The notch where we accessed the glacier looked so far away and our ski tracks down the glacier seemed insignificant on the mass of ice. With little time to linger Sky began the ski descent. He stopped a little ways down to shoot some pics of Corey and myself on the descent. The skiing was simply awesome. Wind buffed, soft, powder down the entire face from the summit. All to quickly we were back at our skin track, and began to climb back up to the notch. At the notch we decided to rappel rather than deal with downclimbing, and although it took a bit longer, provided much more piece of mind. At camp we decided to spend the night rather than ski out in the dark. The next morning was another blue bird day and we packed camp and enjoyed ~3000' of fine buffed out powder before finding crusty conditions lower down in the forest. A quick ski out the road and back to the car. PBR's were cracked and swilled, and the outing came to an end.

~Ross

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Sorry you had to miss out, you overweight desk monkey. I'm sure you found some trouble yourself over the weekend though, eh?

Here's a picture of Ross from the ski:

RossRips.jpg

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Sorry you had to miss out, you overweight desk monkey. I'm sure you found some trouble yourself over the weekend though, eh?

 

Ha, ha. You know it! Maybe that overweight part has some truth to it... smirk.gif

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Awesome climb, and awesome ski!

 

By the way, I'm pretty sure that was the first winter ascent of the North Face of Buckner.

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Nice work!! I can't imagine what that place must have been like in winter . . .

 

In response to Colin's observation about this being the first winter ascent, I recall that a North Face team climbed and skied the NF of Buckner a year or two ago -- was that not in winter? Or was it already spring by then?

 

Regardless, great work and thanks for posting the TR and pictures! Glorious.

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By the way, I'm pretty sure that was the first winter ascent of the North Face of Buckner.

 

 

Wow, really? That would surprise me. Nice job guys!

 

Those pictures are like jizz factor 11. Amazing!

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Awesome climb, and awesome ski!

 

By the way, I'm pretty sure that was the first winter ascent of the North Face of Buckner.

Tim Matsui and co did the first winter ascent of Buckner last year (www.timmatsui.com). But I guess this was the FWA of the NF. bigdrink.gif

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How is it that these really well known and obvious mountains dont get winter ascents earlier? I figured that would be the kind of stuff people would hit first?? confused.gif

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HAHAHAHA. I hadn't seen that Sky! That is pretty hilarious. Good on ya guys anyway, I think that would be a reallly amazing area to explore in the winter if I had the time. To get a cool climb and a great ski and a huge bonus!

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It's funny how folks doubt isn't it? Nice climb fellas, and way to do the "impossible". I'm jealous!

 

I wasn't doubting at'all. I was just kind of surprised it hadn't been done before (not belittling the accomplishment at all!) since it's a very prominent peak and route.

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Some context: 2002 was a stormier winter than this one, and the Cascade River road was blocked much farther from the end than this year. philfort posted a note about it before the 2002 Buckner thread got started, but I haven't looked for it. That's why people made cracks about using a helicopter. rperitore's query generated a lot of spray and misinformation, but that's typical on cc.com. He also suggested some odd route ideas (maybe he mixed up the names of Boston and Sahale?), which caused a flood of responses, both helpful and unhelpful. That's par for the internet.

 

One of the reasons the north face wasn't climbed earlier in winter is that the notch crossing next to Boston Peak isn't well known. I think it's only an attractive route with snow cover. I looked down that gully on a ski trip across the Boston Glacier in 1987 and didn't think it attractive. So it didn't register in my mind as a route until I heard that the June 2002 ski party used it.

 

It is odd that the southwest route wasn't climbed before 2003, but I think the approach crosses some pretty serious avalanche terrain. I spoke to one of the guys who climbed it last winter and he said something to that effect.

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Conditions on Cascade River Road are a funny thing. Because the road is so far below the mean snow line, generally the road is snow-free for quite a ways. When we do get some of these prolonged periods of low freezing leveles accompanied by precip., the road becomes impassable early on...sometimes before Sibley Cr. Rd. However from what I have seen, the snow that falls at these low elevations, even on the road, does not persist for long, and again the road is passable for a good long ways.

~Ross

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