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John Frieh

[TR] Mt. Stuart- girth pillar 7/3/2004

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Climb: Mt. Stuart-girth pillar

 

Date of Climb: 7/3/2004

 

Trip Report:

4479gpfromnredit-med.JPG

 

First things first: I debated posting this for a number of reasons

 

- I have never personally posted a TR (unless you count this one).

 

- I already chest beat way too much as it is.

 

- Finally a few other cc users have climbed this route and opted to not post a TR (which I still kinda question why… I wonder if I am breaking some commandment with this TR).

 

But… as you can see at the end of the day I decided too as I feel other possible pillar suitors would benefit from the beta I obtained from both climbing this route as well as the large amount that was offered to me from some truly kind, humble (something I could learn) users of this site (more on that below).

 

I attempted to quarantine my self advertisement to the addendum (which appears below) such that one can quantify their own conclusions about gp without having to wade through lines of self promotion, slander, and NOLSe party lines (though I don’t know how successful I was). As this is my first official TR; please feel free to communicate feedback to me: publicly or privately.

 

Finally, between Ron K. (Ron just joined the site yesterday as castlecrag) and myself; we took over 100 photos of the route, either on the pillar or from the N. Ridge. Of these almost all are either overview shots (the entire pillar, the ice cliff, etc.) which could be used for route finding or are close ups of individual landmarks on the route (belay stations ledges, bivy ledges, etc) so that one can easily recognize it once on the route. If you look at any of the current guide books that feature gp, you will find a (in my layman opinion) lack of specifics for the route. I’m not criticizing this decision; if anything I agree with it as it prevents gumpy punters (that’s for you ML) from bootin’ up on the route (“d00d… it’s only 5.11c… I onsited that at PRG last week… we can just rent some axes from REI”). However it will save those who do try some time and brain activity by avoiding the question “am I off route”? With that said: get a hold of me if you are planning on this route. I will try to help you as much as I can with photos and beta.

 

So with out further ado:

 

Approched from Teanaway River road (Cle Elum/South) side to Goat pass. Traversed Stuart Glacier and gained N. Ridge via the north ridge access couloir (on east side of ridge). Descended from almost the exact point where access couloir tops the ridge (where a few of the bivy sites are… no climbing on the actual ridge was done) via mostly 4th class rock (mostly solid) with the occasional 5th class move. If you try to reproduce this; chances are your mileage (difficulty) of downclimbing will vary as a number of options existed. Generally Ron and I traversed slightly to the right as we descended. I do have a number of photos from both the top of the ridge looking down, in the middle of the descent, and looking at it from the pillar that I can share.

 

We opted to do a short 20 m rap (though it was not required) onto the ice cliff glacier as a healthy moat existed so this was the safest option to gain the glacier. This descent deposited us above the bulk of the ice cliff difficulties so that only mellow glacier travel (two crevasse end runs were all of the technicalities) separated us from the pillar access point (so mellow that Ron did the snow portion in sneakers with old skool smc strap on crampons…style points!). I should point out that where one gains the upper ice cliff cirque is right in the firing line of the north east slabs (they hold snow until late in the season… if you have ever been on the n. side and heard the cannon shot sounds… that’s them releasing). With that said; one can run through this debris field in under a minute (its small); just time it correctly.

 

As I did not know what to expect from the ice cliff (many people were telling me I had already missed the window this year) I opted for two technical tools, crampons and boots (which matched with my shorts for the weekend earned some funny looks on the trail). I would encourage everyone else to do the same (be prepared for hard ice climbing); it would be a shame to walk all that way only to have to turn around because of one crevasse that one couldn’t climb through as one opted for sneakers. With that said Ron and I could have both done the ice cliff in sneakers and one tool each. In regards to others comments about the ice cliff season being out for the year; I would remind them that the ice cliff was a common hard man climb in Oct. back in the 70’s so if they could back then, anyone should be able to access the girth at any time with modern tools.

 

Following the glacier portion we gained the rock and in 3 short pitches (could have been 2 but we broke it into 3 to reduce rope drag and rope contact with some looseness). Here we found the bivy site which is right below the pillar. Currently a 100 square meter snow patch exists and is available for melting snow.

 

The pillar itself is both everything and nothing I expected. I could go on and on here but it wouldn’t do it any justice… it would be the equivalent of trying to verbalize what Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony sounds like to someone without letting them listen to it. I will say I concur with others impressions of the route: the best route in the cascades I have climbed.

 

Minor details:

 

I was able to run the 2nd and 3rd pitch together with a beal (I mention this only because I know 70 m lengths vary from vendor to vendor) 70 m rope.

 

I wish I had brought doubles in orange alien, # 1 and 2 camalots.

 

Pure granite pornography.

 

Following the pillar top out; we simuled to the top: once again mileage (difficulty) will vary. Ron and I found low to mid 5th class terrain to the top. We sorted gear, giggled and descended via the standard Cascadian couloir to Longs and out.

 

Upper cirque access from NR via downclimbing:

4479kirdescentedit-med.jpg

It's gotta be the da shoes!

4479dashoesedit1-med.jpg

Burritos + curry = warm (natural gas) and happy

4479poptartedit-med.jpg

First pitch

4479jfgp1stptichedit-med.JPG

Ron tops the pillar:

4479topofpillaredit-med.jpg

 

 

Gear Notes:

- extra medium rock rack to 3 “ (largest piece we took was a 3.5 camalot which we used a couple times)… I would encourage one to err on the side of a larger rack

- 8.1 mm 70 m half ropes

- 2 technical tools, crampons (both for me… I could have gotten by with one standard axe)

- 1 standard ice axe, strap ons (Ron)

- 2 ice screws, 2 pickets (didn’t use either)

- supervillain bandanas!

 

 

Approach Notes:

see above

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Addendum: Slander, Self promotion, slander, and NOLSe party lines

 

Mad props/shout outs to:

- Girth Pillar was Ron’s 1st grade V! w00t!

- Illini (Jason another newbie to the site but not climbing) for hooking Ron up with some gear he needed for the trip.

- Skyclimb and GregD (welcome to the site Greg!) for both the laugh and time conformation in the middle of my mind numbing last lead on the pillar as well as putting up with my “jesus saves brother” and cowboy yee haws that echoed through the cirque during my leads

-GregD for the sweet photo he snagged of Ron and I on the pillar: link

- The poop gods for blessing me and especially Ron with regular timely visits that didn’t interfere with other scheduled activities (like leading)

- Everyone (you know who you are) who hooked me up with beta (true or not), encouragement, skepticism (quote: “I completely disagree with your strategy”), and pictures. People like you make this site worth while.

 

No love for:

- Me for forgetting the iodine tabs.

- Ron for deciding to save weight mid trip by removing (see: losing) the bite valve to his camelbak

- Emergency space blankets are so suck and windproof for about 10 minutes. Mmmm… open bivies.

 

Etc.

- I opted to take a 900 c.i. bag for 2 days. As this amounted to not much storage (even though I didn’t bring a sleeping bag among other things), I had to literally wear just about everything the entire trip (rack, ropes, jackets around my wasted, socks on my harness, etc) so I looked like a walking yard sale most of the weekend. Gaper!

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Once more, the questions remain:

 

1. Did you free it all and if so, what is the opinion on pitch ratings?

 

2. The section of the pillar that has fallen off...was that part of the route or just a nearby section? If part of the route, what is the new description/new pitches? The account from the two 16 year old kids who climbed it made it sound as though either the written route description is poor, or they climbed some variations to get around some section that had fallen off.

 

What say you OBe?

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"and a warm thanks slapphappy for his positive feedback and unending support...." yellaf.gif

 

* oh that's good! wave.gif

 

I believe yesterday I congratulated them on a fine climb, why did that get pulled????? Not positive enough?

 

What I don't understand is what the big mystery is about a climb that has been repeated numerous times, for years. Why the need for self promotion and "secret" beta. Last I noticed it was in the Nelson guide. Whatever, I could care less...

 

Nice job NOLSE and partner!

 

Better?

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How Lame... cry.gif

 

Anyway, It looks like the first pitch of the piller proper is different than it was two years ago, which was supposedly after the big rockfall. Its hard to tell from NOLSE's pic's. But I'll try and post some pics of the first pitch when I get chance to compare and contrast.

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For the record- i didn't have time to weed through the whole thread. i just dumped the whole thing b/c most of it was garbage. a couple decent posts got trashed too. sorry if someone's positive feed back/constructive criticism got dumped. i owe ya beer if it did

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1) No. I suck. Flame on…

 

2) The pillar itself (the 3 pitches after the bivy ledge) appeared unaltered to me and would lead me to conclude that the piece that fell off was not part of the pillar. I did manage to pull off some loose shit on the first pitch on the pillar (largest piece being the size of my torso). Furthermore I pulled through some serious looseness that stayed in place mid pitch. On that note I would encourage people to pull test all gear (especially cams) prior to moving along as I found a few when pulled on generated some expando.

 

For reference the first pitch is the one pictured in the Nelson book (being aided in the winter; the leader is roughly 30 ft off the belay ledge in the pic). I would say the first pillar pitch is thee dirties of the 3 (some plants and moss, choss in cracks… but well worth it I would say). The second two are cleaner than just about any pitch on the n. ridge and for that matter cleaner than many at most crags (11worth, smith, etc.).

 

In regard to the 2 16 y.o. comments; I agree that most of the guidebook descriptions out there are vague (I think “poor” was there comment - correct?). Nelson negated to rate the first pitch; it felt 10+ to me. Obviously whether or not Nelson or any other guidebook author out there should or shouldn’t provide this information is a debate that belongs somewhere else on this page. Like I said in my TR above I agree with this move as it puts more of the burden and responsibility on the party.

 

In response to the vagueness issue: Ron and I have enough photos to draw a topo as well as create a pictorial representation of points of interest on both the pillar as well as the n. ridge access we used. I hesitate to post it here after the abuse I received… but then again I probably deserved it… he who exults himself shall be humbled. Like I said earlier: if you are considering an ascent and want beta contact me. I can share all I have as well as give you the names of people who helped me (thanks again to those people).

 

Finally (and I’m still trying to determine this… I will probably go climb the pillar again in the next month to try and confirm this) I believe Ron and I gained the pillar differently than most people do (I think we traversed in more instead of a more direct line); as we approached the pillar we saw 2 potential access lines and chose the cleaner looking one (which it was). Additionally I think we topped out differently also (we didn’t find any 5.8). But who knows?

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Thanks specialed. That's part of why I was asking...looking at that first pitch photo posted, and looking at the vague route description in the Select and thinking...something don't jive, pitch must have gotten strafed in the rockfall.

 

Also the pic linked in the second post: http://www.cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/503/3539GirthPillar.jpeg looks like the whole section of the pillar to the left of where they are climbing is a big fresh scar...it's almost white. I don't know how it looked before, but if that was all where a section fell off, that's wild.

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the whole section of the pillar to the left of where they are climbing is a big fresh scar...it's almost white.

 

That is the second and third pitch. I traversed left after that pic was taken. Hence the clean description.

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Good job NOLSe! You guys took an innovative approach to bypass the lower Ice Cliff in order to go lighter in your carryover. PM me with your beta if you choose not to post it here. Thanks.

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Good job NOLSe! You guys took an innovative approach to bypass the lower Ice Cliff in order to go lighter in your carryover. PM me with your beta if you choose not to post it here. Thanks.

JUST POST THE bETA...THAT IS WHAT THIS DAMN SITE IS FOR.

THANKS. bigdrink.gif

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So I should go ahead and post 50+ photos of belay ledges, etc? My though was with this large amount of info that I could mail a CD to anyone who asked. Sorry if this comes across as secretive...

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yo, slaphappy, if you don't want the beta, and want to "unlock the unknown" then don't read the TR and look at the pictures... NO one is forcing you to "click here"

 

NOLSe, nice job, we like TR's, post pictures smile.gif

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Colin Haley and I climbed girth pillar Saturday. We encountered mostly dry rock except for a little bit of wetness on the 1st pitch of the pillar proper. The route was very fun. We left Issaquah at 1:10am and were back to the car at the trailhead at 10:50pm. I'd do this route again it's so good.

Maybe Colin will post a picture or two.

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Congrats Jens!

 

Do you do the ice cliff or drop in from the N. ridge?

 

I'd love to do the route again; how about we team up for a run?

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