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mvs

[TR] Johannesberg- NE Rib (Western Variation) 7/24/2004

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Climb: Johannesburg-NE Rib (Western Variation)

 

Date of Climb: 7/24/2004

 

Trip Report:

Theron Welch and I climbed Johannesberg NE Buttress (Western Rib variation) on Saturday and Sunday. Another party was getting onto the rock just as we were, we exchanged hellos and promises to share any whiskey. We climbed gullies which steepened pretty quickly and prompted us to rope up to belay hard spots. It's probably useless to describe in detail the lower buttress. Our personal journey was marked by

 

1) limb-pulling, devils-club molesting, rope-dragging horror

2) a vertical 5.8 hand-fist crack (after excavation)

3) a truly scary schrub lower-off after a failed "direkt" attempt featuring dramatic moss-ledge collapse

4) golden salvation via trees and gentle alder-tugging to the snowpatch ledge.

 

The water and shade from the snowpatch was essential to life. In the brush battle, my Platypus nipple (the thing you suck on?) was stolen, so every time I leaned down for the rest of the trip, a volley of carefully gathered water would empty onto my shoes, the map, whatever. After a good break at the snow, we climbed into steep forest and occasional rock, with a memorable trusting-life-to-a-shrub-growing-from-an-overhang move

(runkelfunkenlangweilgelbfast), then gained the heathery ridge crest. A long climb of heather and increasing rock on the narrowing ridge crest brought us to the rappel point into the (not-inviting) snow gully to the right. Old rap slings were laying on the ground here - score! We went up and left, first trying to climb a "rotten chimney," if

5.3 I'm Santa. Then we made a hard couple of moves around a tremendously exposed corner and climbed easier rock up and left for several pitches to reach a glorious bivy site at the base of the snow arete. There is water here, and a reasonably flat rock that sleeps two. What an exhausting day :-).

 

Sunday I couldn't coax Theron up until the sun hit the ridge, then we began hiking up the snow arete. We spent a relatively low angle morning getting to the summit, first weaving around a crevasse or two, then climbing 40 degree slopes into a snow tongue just left of the summit block. After some fun moat climbing on the left side of the tongue we reached a notch, then scrambled 100 easy feet to the summit. We were the second party to sign in this year, but the papers are in tatters: only four sheets of rotting pages, going back to 1986. We saw several familiar names, and added our own. What a great feeling it was to be there, covered in bruises and scratches from the day before. What a grizzly bear that Rib is! Now she licked her cubs quietly.

 

We began the descent around 9 am, encouraged to stay high by faint trail and the occasional cairn. The south side of the peak is tortured with gullies, descending them looked like a one-way ticket to Middle Fork bashing. After rounding several ribs, we had a pleasant walk along the crest, soon beginning a series of 3-4 rappels to get down a major tower. Some downclimbing led us back to the ridge crest, which eventually steepened with an uncomfortable view of the CJ col 400 feet below. Ah, a rap station! I had to clip myself in and sit for a moment: the cumulative exposure, the unrelenting insecurity required a rest for my delicate constitution. Towers of Cascade Peak looked ridiculously steep. A huge rockfall echoed in the col, probably caused by us knocking off rocks a minute before. Another rappel brought Theron to a flake where he craftily left one of the discarded rappel slings from the rib Saturday. After rappel #7, we scrambled a few hundred feet down to the col.

 

It was a good descent overall, I echo a friend's report to "stay on the ridge." That is probably the best way for someone unfamiliar with the East Ridge for descent. Do bring some webbing just in case.

 

Massive spontaneous rockfall made us hurry down from the col to a brook in heather below Cascade Peak. After a long afternoon rest, we rounded the Triplets, then started climbing up and across heather slopes. We were intent on "Doug's Direct," based on the great post from John Sharp a few weeks before. The ridge from the Triplets to Mixup Peak is long: where to gain it? John mentioned heather slopes, so we picked the heather slope that went almost to the crest of the ridge, and climbed up slowly but easily, reaching the crest in late afternoon. We had picked the right place, very good for us because of many towers stretching away to Mixup Peak. We never saw any cairns, but scrambled down absolutely excellent rock (I pulled on obviously detached columns: no movement! magic!) for 400 feet or so to reach the high lobe of the Cache Glacier below our ridge point (Theron built a cairn on the ridge crest). Now on fast terrain, we stomped down the glacier, then to Cascade Pass for a visit with goats and deer. The sun slowly set as we hiked down, JBerg beginning to tower over us the way that she often does. She couldn't erase the huge grin on my face!

 

Thanks to Robert Meshew for information from his trip one year ago, and John Sharp's "Doug's Direct" advice. John, screw the turn-around time - keep climbing up!

 

ps - JBerg has a curious effect: every other route but the

line you are standing on looks absolutely insane to be at.

 

pps - I failed to mention, we actually _enjoyed_ the climbing once on the heathery ridge crest. rockband.gif

 

 

Gear Notes:

60-meter, 8.5 mm rope. Small rack (4 slings, 4 nuts, 4 cams). Aluminum crampons, short ice axe. Sleeping bag, stove.

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Yes, it was a special trip. Here are a cupla quick pics:

 

jungle.jpg

 

on_belay.jpg

 

(above) Jungle Belays

 

upper_buttress.jpg

 

Out of the thick brush on the upper buttress

 

knife.jpg

 

On the short knife edge before the rap pin

 

glacier.jpg

 

On the snow arete

 

Aw man, it's spelled "Johannesburg"! Better get that in in case someone wants to search. yelrotflmao.gif

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Thx oregonbob! Some mountains are worth climbing because they look beautiful or kind of forbidding from a distance. Even though JBurg is "unsavory" up close, we were really happy to have danced with her. There is no way I'd head up again this year, but I do want to go back again after a time. She has a certain...musk? yelrotflmao.gif

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Way to go Michael and Theron. We too found the climbing really cool once you hit the heather. I don't recall quite as much difficulty getting to the heather, though. The snow gully was certainly easier than the rock to the left, and the 5.3 label, which everyone disputes, was cribbed from Fred. Jim should amend it. It is clearly harder.

 

I remember sitting with Bob and Jim on top of the summit ridge right in front of the summit pyramid. We had been going for 12.5 hours at that point, I think. What a sensation as you look down on your car.

 

Should've signed in, God damn it.

 

One funny moment: While taking a break during the heather stretch, Jim pulled out a can of grape pop. He sucked it down, then tossed the empty can over his shoulder thinking we weren't watching. Sort of summed up our trip, I guess.

 

Very glad that Doug's Direct is becoming the std. You did it just right.

 

=;-)

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Michael and Theron:

 

Nice TRs, nice stills, and nice film! I wish we had a movie camera on our trip up in 1999, if for no other reason than to record the sound and sight of the helicopter that came to look for us, and found us in the parking lot after our long descent down the CJ Couloir. Shots of Jim chucking empty cans of grape pop over his shoulder high on the route would have made good cinema as well.

 

So would you do the route again?

 

Sharp

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It may look ominous, but people shouldn't be dissuaded from rapping down into the gully. We made it with one 150' 9 mil no problem, and the climbing in the gully was quick and secure, though there were some instances where the snow bridged above the gully. It was much faster and more palatable than that rock version to the left sounds like, and dumps you right out at the start of the snow arete.

 

You've nicely captured the way the route looms in your imagination, and the fact that the mediocre climbing doesn't really diminish the epic appeal of that rib.

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Well said Off White, the appeal remains!

 

John I would climb the route again, although I'd like to try a route above the Sill Glacier first. Now I'm remembering a fairly light pack, good weather, and nice hot dinner at the bivy site. The steep brush has kind of faded into something manageable, and the descent wasn't as hard as feared. tongue.gif

 

Has anybody climbed the North Face of Mt. Booker?

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A friend of mine climbed the north face of Booker years ago and reported that it had a couple of pitches of 5.8 with a fairly nice descent back to Park Creek by linking snow fields. May want to do it early season.

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Some cool pictures there gents!

 

And a great movie. My only complaint is that your soundtrack had one glaring omission: No Tool.

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Thanks for the compliments. Here's a quick link to the movie for others to enjoy.

 

I don't think I'd do that route again, but I'm very glad to have done it. It really lends itself to a "one-time" ascent!

 

"no Tool" frown.gif Ha ha!

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Can someone hook me up with descent beta for this elusive Doug's direct? I have tried searching and can't seem to effectively get it to surface.

 

Someone wanna hook a brother up?

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Its really pretty simple:

 

* hike to Cascade Pass

* hike Mixup Arm until you get to Cache glacier

* hang a sharp right and ascend the lobe of the Cache and walking rock slabs underneath the East and Northeast faces of mixup. This is not the same as going to Gunsight. You are heading towards the North ridge of Mixup, so go that direction.

* The snow and ice ends at a short steep dirt gully that turns to steep heather scrambling after 50m. Steep heather ascends to the Mixup north ridge notch with a few short sections of 3rd and 4th. (Up until this point you've done the approach for the North ridge of Mixup.)

* From the notch you have a great view of the Triplets and the E face of Joburg, descend down the backside of Mixup down steep slopes and 3rd class scrambling to more steep heather and alp medows, and a faint climbers trail to C-J col, below.

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wish i'd had that shit before doing the east ridge getaway the long way, in the rain...

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I named this cossing "Doug's Direct" because Doug Walker insisted it would go, and upon inspection we learned that he was right. I doubt we were the first to do it -- very unlikely -- but it was not mentioned anywhere that we could see. We did it last July 2004. Since then, it has become the host of at least two huge cairns, one by MVS and Theron, and one by me in Sept. when I hiked up alone one day. I've not done the Gunsight Notch shuffle, but Doug's Direct seems superior from what others have said.

 

Did you do the E. Ridge of J'Berg or the N.E. Butt. or something?

 

John Sharp

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Sweet! Thanks.

 

Any special landmarks going the opposite direction? It will be our descent and we weren't planning on going up that way. Any good ways to make certain we're heading toward the correct point on Mix Up N Ridge?

 

Thanks for the great beta so far.

 

Chris

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Once you turn the buttress below the triplets, just head on a rising traverse for the notch on Erick's map that he posted above. Everything is visible, you will be way above treeline, its really not that difficult to find.

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Alex is right again. Once you turn Cascade Peak you'll head up and across heather slopes into a big basin of sorts. In Fred's green book, it has the words "alp slope" in a drawing (pg. 250 in the 2nd ed.). The basin might still have snow in it, otherwise I remember it being kind of rusty scree. You can walk along the lower edge of the scree on heather. Keep looking up at the ridgeline, and you should see a kind of long "tongue" of steep heather that swings down from it. If you go too far toward Gunsight, you'll be crossing rock ribs and will have gone too far. Slog up this tongue of heather -- it becomes lose scree at the top, maybe the last 200 ft. Follow your nose there and you should pop out at a notch where you'll see two big cairns. From there, pick a path down the 3rd/easy 4th on the other side. Eventually you'll hit scree and can see the objective snowfield. Look at the N. Ridge picture of Mix Up in Fred's book (pg. 251 in the 2nd ed.). The crossing is somewhere above or to the right (in the picture) of the words "No. Ridge."

 

Of course, all of this can be avoided by down climbing the CJ gully. Just get an early start, especially if it's hot. Rock fall is huge in there. It's not that bad, though when you first launch over the lip, you might think "why am I here???"

 

Good luck!

 

John Sharp

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could you use this picture to show the approx. hi pt for doug's direct, or is it too far off left?

18681bivylookingbackattraverse.jpg

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