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Ade

[TR] Nooksack Tower- Nelson/Gerson 4/11/2004

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Climb: Nooksack Tower-Nelson/Gerson

 

Date of Climb: 4/11/2004

 

Trip Report:

My guess is Colin is busy today, whereas I’m just at work…

 

Colin and I left Seattle Saturday morning and hiked into the base of the Nooksack Tower the same day (see Approach Notes below).

 

We made an early start the following morning (5am). We managed to only have one headlamp so an earlier start would have been problematic anyway. The schrund is still pretty much buried so accessing the couloir wasn’t an issue.

 

We soloed/simul-climbed most of the couloir to the notch (second used the rope for a couple of steep sections). The cornice at the ridge turned out to be pretty easy to turn on the right side. It's obviously very windy up there in winter. There were these big flutings on the minor peak next to Nooksack and big snow mushrooms on the East face of the tower.

 

Colin made short work a steep but solid(ish) rock pitch up and left above the col. This actually had some tricky but cool mixed moves up a corner system and then led leftwards into a natural bay in the rock. I climbed the next pitch up a rather loose chimney – lots of swearing, scraping of crampons and a momentary reduction in points of contact with the rock.

 

This pitch allowed us to reach a large snow ramp leading toward the summit. The snow had already had a lot of sun so wasn't the best. Colin led a rope length up this, getting another good rock anchor. We weren’t really sure how much more climbing there was so I headed for the crest. After half a pitch of snow and some moves on snowed up rock I pulled over the lip and found myself looking down the other side with the summit just a few feet away.

 

Colin followed and we congratulated each other on a job half done. The top of the Nooksack is the coolest. It's really small with great views of pretty much everything. We sat there for a bit rehydrated and enjoyed trying to figure out what all the peaks were. Of course you still have to get off the mountain.

 

Colin did a great job of setting anchors on the descent; I guess he's had a lot of practice. We had do search around to find good ones under snow covered rock in some cases. We rapped to the col and then down over the cornice and once more for a steep section where the couloir narrows. The rest of the snow we down climbed while trying to dodge bits of falling snow mushroom... unsuccessfully.

 

Times: Left the bivvy at 5am, summit at 11am (5 hours). Back at bivvy by 4pm (11 hour round trip).

 

Note 1: Remember your suncream, then nobody at work will know you went climbing.

 

Note 2: If you have the "Headlamp of Immunity" then you cannot be eliminated (or fall off).

 

 

Gear Notes:

Pins (definitely!), nuts, cams (no need for screws and in most places pickets would have been useless). Lots of slings/tape for rap anchors.

 

Suncream would have been nice.

 

Approach Notes:

Drove to the end of the Nooksack road. Biked the section after the removed bridge. Snowshoed the last half mile to the river crossing. The log is still there. Hiked most of the valley to Price Lk, snowshoed the last section. Snowshoed all the way to a bivvy on the glacier. Just under seven hours in and three out - bikes rule.

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"headtorch", I say, bravo old chap. Good job abseiling off using tape anchors. Did you leave any krabs behind? What was the Scottish grade?? bigdrink.gif

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I'm jealous the bikes worked for you guys. My attempt to bike to Monte Cristo ended up as a total failure as the road was mixed snow and dirt. Ironically about a 1/2 mile after I abandoned my bike nearly the entire way after that was snow free, despite the higher elevation. confused.gif

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Film went in today. I'll get them back next week and scan them. Colin's may be back sooner but he doesn't have a scanner.

 

The bikes really worked out although I think I need a wider saddle. The one I have is very narrow and was somewhat painful with me and a full pack on it.

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Snowy. The North side of the tower gets less sun and consequently has more snow on it still. The Nelson/Gerson traverses onto the South side slightly.

 

Most of the stuff that fell on us when we were descending was coming off the Beckey route. In some places it follows gullies which were still full of snow.

 

I'll have pictures next week.

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What is the rating, etc. on the route you guys did? I dont have a beckey book handy. I bet the crystal glacier is pretty spectacular from that vantage, eh?

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The McLane guide gives it TD- ice, 5.7. Beckey about the same. Seems about on the money to me although it felt pretty commiting.

 

It's going to vary a lot. Later in the season there will be more ice, not snow lower down. Until the couloir melts out that is. Higher up there will be a lot more dry rock to climb, you could probably climb in boots/shoes from the col but might need to pitch more of the couloir.

 

We descended the way we came whereas McLane suggests rapping the Beckey route. Later season you might be better decending the Beckey as it sees more traffic and has more established anchors (maybe).

 

The rock quality wasn't good by Cascades standards. I'd be interested to know what the rock on the N Ridge is like. Anyone?

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The Becky route's got decent rock, not great but decent. It is amazing how shitty the summit area is though. My hat's off to the 2 parties (any others?) that have done the Nooksack-Shuksan traverse! We had planned to the traverse but looked at what we'd be rapping off into and chickened out.

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The rock quality wasn't good by Cascades standards. I'd be interested to know what the rock on the N Ridge is like. Anyone?

 

The n ridge rock is reasonable till the end , it turns to big loose blocks. Good Job Guys!!

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Wayne, did you climb the N. Ridge in 99 or 2000? I might have seen you up there -- we were bivied where you guys droped off your tennis shoes to head across the glacier (bivied at the base of the N. Ridge)?? (July I think ?)

 

The rock quality on the Beckey route is reasonable except for a spot at mid height. As far as the traverse goes the rock gets really poor about 1/2 way and doesn't really improve too much after that. The rappels off of the tower are fairly reasonable actually. 3 double rope rappels (1st. bomber off of a large block.. 2nd Ok off of Pin and Nut equalized, 3rd is off of a good horn) The col is a good bivy in the wind scoop. The first bit of climbing is pretty good out of the col on solid rock. (when the climbing gets hard > 5.7 then you should stay East - right of the ridge crest. Really enjoyable ridge traverse until mid point and then the rock gets worse. Not too much pro worth much but the climbing is easy. There is a final gendarme that will need to be rappelled from the ridge prior to accessing the Crystal? glacier. This rappel is scary as it is from a teetering block... you might be able to bypass this tower on the left (west) of the ridge crest. Once on the glacier you are home free. Go get it! cool.gif

 

Good job Colin and Ade! Great climbing.

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Young Robert, I did it back in 88, as part of a Nooksack-Price Glacier, Summit of Shucksan to Lake Ann Traverse. We stashed a mt bike there and rode back to the car. Fun though strenuous.

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thumbs_up.gifbigdrink.gif Thats awesome! I too stashed a bike at the ski area... very much recommended.

 

Nooksack rules!

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