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highclimb

[TR] N-S Traverse of the Picket Range- Challanger, Fury,Terror 8/14/2004

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Climb: N-S Traverse of the Picket Range-Challanger, Fury,Terror

 

Date of Climb: 8/14/2004

 

Trip Report:

mvs, Der WAnderer and I traversed the pickets this past week. here is a rough sketch of what we did. Day one; water taxi into big beaver hike 14 miles to camp. Day two; Wiley Ridge to Challanger glacier camp. Day three; Climb Challanger glacier route and descend into Luna creek cirque and camp below Fury. Day four; Climb North Buttress of Fury and bivi on summit! Day five; descend southwest glacier on fury, up over Outrigger peak and down to picket pass. Day six; descend to mustard glacier and climb North Buttress of Terror, camp in Cresent Creek Basin. Day Seven; hike out via barrier.

 

Conditions:

 

Challanger: the glacier is in fine shape so no problems to report.

 

Fury: We gained the buttress from the west side via 5th class climbing on glacial slabs/cliffs to gain the snow slope that puts you close to the buttress. objective danger is very high. rock fall in constant, but it seemed like the best way to get on the Butt.

 

Terror: no problems getting on the buttress. but found the climbing to be alot harder than "exposed 3rd class". we might have gained the crest to early but found some hard moves "5.8ish witha big pack". lots of loose rock in the middle of the route. upper pitches are awsome

 

i am sure mvs will post a more extensive TR just updating on conditions. he will post pics i am sure as soon as he has them.

 

 

 

Approach Notes:

Wiley ridge; there is a orange flag on the steep bushwacking part to gain the ridge....this is a warning flag there is a bees nest right there, mvs got stung about 8 times. and a gy in a different party got stung twice. advise is to stay high on the ridge until you come to above eiley lake or else you will get cliffed out.

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Hey! Der Wanderer is gonna post some pictures too (as well as a TR) as soon as I get these slides developed and scanned! bigdrink.gif

 

Some things I'd add about the two big buttresses: Fury is the harder of the two - longer w/ more mixed climbing and lots more objective dangers. The best pitches are right in the middle, directly on the crest. For Terror, maybe there is a "3rd class" route on Terror (I doubt it), but you'd have to be an *awesome* routefinder to locate it all the way up. Either way, it's hugely exposed for the entire route.

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I'd write something but we are repairing to Der Wanderer's house for an infusion of charred protein products.

 

I'll just say this traverse rocked our heads completely off.

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i guess it was an enchainment of those three routes in one trip, but we traversed (not always climbing) the range from its northern aspect to the southern part of the pickets. but much of the traverse is on technical ground above treeline.

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Sounds like the answer to michael's question is that it was an enchainment. Traverse would mean staying on a connected feature, such as a ridge. At least that is how I understand it.

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just clarifying for those aspiring the full traverse...

either way, sounds like fun and NICE JOB

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OK, I've made a cursory pass through my slides and picked some choice samples. So here are some pics from the fun week cool.gif:

 

challenger.jpg

(above) From Day 2: A view of Challenger near the end of Wiley Ridge

 

ah_challenger.jpg

From Day 3: HighClimb scoots up the rock pitch on Challenger

 

tsw_fury.jpg

From Day 4: Der Wanderer on an exposed section of Fury's north buttress

 

mvs_ah_fury.jpg

From Day 4: MVS and HighClimb on an exposed ledge on the middle of Fury's north buttress.

 

ah_snow_arete.jpg

From Day 4: HighClimb high on Fury's snow arete.

 

fury_camp.jpg

From Day 5: Camp on the summit of Fury

 

ponder_terror.jpg

From Day 5: Der Wanderer ponders the north face of Mount Terror

 

mvs_ah_terror.jpg

From Day 6: MVS and HighClimb follow a fun dihedral on Terror.

 

ah_tsw_terror.jpg

From Day 6: HighClimb and Der Wanderer on the final technical pitch on Terror.

 

mcmillan_valley.jpg

From Day 6: McMillan Valley and Luna Peak from the summit of Mount Terror.

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Way to go with a full diet of Pickets classics. Is Fury not the coolest peak of them all, sitting as it does in the middle of the alpine kingdom?

 

About Terror, I guess the route description will have to be amended now that Jim has climbed it. Apparently it was all "3rd class" to Ed Cooper. The route sounds, from all descriptions this year, a little over-rated. What do you think? Worth it on position alone?

 

Keep up the good work Michael -- you're killin' it this year.

 

Sharp

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That sounds like the best friggin N Cascades trip imaginable. 1 Classic, 2 Classic, 3 Classics! God damn, I'm jealous. Congrats!

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Great photos. Those ones of the person standing on top of Fury and the tent on top are great! Seems like a lot of people spend the night up there. I also noticed a bivy spot someone constructed on the n. buttress at the first snow arete. Strange, seems pretty far down. Great photo of Challenger too. Must have been interesting crossing from there and getting on the buttress of Fury.

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Actually, getting from Challenger Arm to Luna Cirque wasn't bad at all. It was a long west-trending descent from the edge of the Challenger Glacier and Challenger Arm. There were no scary downclimbs or anything. There is a camp down there - a sandy flat area devoid of water (you can go fetch it not far away) in the middle of the moraine. As for Juan's question about Terror being over-rated, not at all! It was stellar. There was a section or two of licheny loose stuff, but overall it was surprisingly solid and there were some very memorable pitches. Definitely worthwhile, IMHO.

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Great comments guys, thanks! We are all power-napping, good on Der Wanderer to get the energy to scan. Kupla komments:

 

* Terror really was a classic climb. For one thing, the gneiss on the lower 3rd of the route was sooo clean, grippy and covered in holds that it reminded Aidan and I of climbing Dolomite limestone. Even views looking down on the buttress had that Dolomiti look. Then the route gets more serious, leading us gradually right to the crest of the buttress where we found steep licheny rock - eventually too steep, causing me to cower back left on a hard traverse into a gully (5.8 without a pack moves). Several pitches of consistent 5.6 or so followed, fantastically exposed, only undermined a little bit by looseness and lichen. And the climbing above the notch became clean again, awesome hand traversing and a great stemming/chimney pitch. I've seen the route as Grade III or even II+. I'd say it was a III or III+ for us.

 

* Darin hit on a primary motivation for the trip - laziness! You see we wanted to climb these classics very much. But multiple trips to do them, with all the ensuing exhaustion? Indeed, the easiest way to approach Terror is from Picket Pass - and heck! Picket Pass isn't that hard from Fury (actually we were wrong about that - lowering/downclimbing 4 pitches of blue ice took half a day). Heck! You are practically back in civilization on the south side of Terror.

 

* The Terror creek trail was no problem at all - I somehow expected crouching on pine needles high on the Barrier, contemplating tumbling falls into Terror Creek. But walking down the ridge of the Barrier, we espied very good flagging that led us off down and left onto a good trail in the pine needles. We nearly lost it once, but were glad we stopped and searched around instead of giving up. This trail is a good, fast threading through the forest cliffs all the way to the creek. We had some 'whacking on the east side of Terror Creek, but eventually picked up trail again. Although a day trip to the Chopping Block still doesn't appeal to me smile.gif, it seems more reasonable now.

 

* Travellin' specs: 1 betamid (the new one, really small and lite), small sleepin' bags, 1 fuel canister & pocket rocket, 2 pickets, 2 ice screws, 1 3rd tool, 1 50 m 8.5 mm rope, 1 Tequila Blanco, medium rock rack, rock shoes (so glad), crampons, axe.

 

* Coming down Challenger Arm to the base of Fury was pretty easy, just walking. We worried about finding flat ground to camp on at the base of Fury, but there is an awesome flat sandy football field at just the right spot. Crashing icefalls woke us now and then.

 

* We did the western approach to the buttress, which was a bit dangerous in retrospect. After climbing a lower cliff, we let our guard down and stopped to drink water at The Snowfinger (which would lead us past The Dove to New Zealand). "BOOM!" Up in the air, a whirling chunk of Minas Tirith! Us in disarray, scrabbling and crouching, "ohshit ohshit ohshit." Either it has our name on it or not. After that, an adrenaline fueled march up the Snowfinger to true safety at the New Zealand snow, out of reach of that dripping spider's womb that created The Mudslide and The Sandbox. We came up with all these names on Challenger to keep from getting lost in that muck - it was a good idea!

 

* Biggest part of making the dream trip happen is the unexpected strengths of your partners, your friends. Party of three creates a little bubble in the sometimes-oppresive 'Fences. There are chances to turn back or escape dropping into the next hole between. We had reasons aplenty (you should see Aidan's blisters - damn!!), but magically kept heading south. I have great respect for the hardy spirits of Der Wanderer and Highclimb.

 

* It wasn't that hard...it was fun!

 

* That "spider's womb" comment is cool. I'm going to work that into my daily conversation. grin.gif

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Damn MVS!! And I liked your slideshow on the Dolemites, this one will knock everybody dead. I've gone through about two rolls of paper towels cleaning up the spittle I've drowled onto my keyboard.

 

cry.gif I miss the Cascades!!!

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those pics are awsome theron! i got mine yesterday....was freaking out...they kick ass! i will mail them up to you so you can scan them and put them on a cd. our middle finger pictures kick ass! they totally convey the emotion of that fucking terror col gully piece of shit asshole bitch fucking chossy....ok sorry got carried away.

 

it was fun but i thought hard (ichael is the eternal optomist) smile.gif mental and physical exhaustion set in on fury. after that i found we had to relay on each other every day to get to the next checkpoint. michaels third to last comment is the most important one. its all about your buddies in the mountains

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Congratulations guys!! And a good job on the two link sections! It looked like the Challenger to Luna traverse would be pretty straightforward, but the push from Fury to Terror looked a bit sporty.

 

I was up on Sourdough this Sunday looking over at Fury. It's been a month since we were on it and it still looks like the demon's eye is scanning the horizon for us...

 

Curiously enough, we were at the fire lookout on Sourdough (which is currently manned) drinking wine and shooting the breeze when I looked back towards the Pickets. A big plume of smoke had rolled up in the five or ten minutes since we had last looked. After the lookout finished reporting it, he told us that he'd been waiting awhile: lightning had touched down there on Friday/Saturday. He said it was probably on the flanks of Luna. Wouldn't that be a hell of an additional hazard! Climbing the endless rock and snow of Fury with hot smoke and ashes all around!

 

Might cut down on the bugs, though!

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Nice job guys!! Great pictures.

Hey Highclimb, You mentioned that the Terror col gully was shitty, just wondering what the upper part of the mess was like? Was it any better than the lower half? We were up there the week before to climb the W. ridge of Terror and made it about 100 feet above the lowest rap with the knifeblade and small nut with a red runner before we decided that we had enough of the scary loose crap and bailed. It was tough to turn around but it looked like it was no better further up the gully, and we had already scared ourselves silly dodging a bunch of rock fall and couldn’t find any thing solid to pitch it out.

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Oh man, camping on the summit of Fury is just too cool! That pic of challenger and subsummit is wayy cool too. I can't wait to go back.

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whiplash,

its better the higher you go. about half way up is a big huge chock stone that we had to rap over. i think that would be the crux of going up as well as down the gulley. its more sandy the higher you go. but still shitty.

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Day one; water taxi into big beaver hike 14 miles to camp. Day two; Wiley Ridge to Challanger glacier camp. Day three; Climb Challanger glacier route and descend into Luna creek cirque and camp below

 

I was hoping to make it to Challenger Base camp on day one. I know it's 14 miles before the bushwhacking begins, but was still hoping it was possible. is it? how early did you start?

 

thanks and awesome pics/TR!

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we started hiking around noon and got to camp one at about 645. we also had big packs. that would be a killer day. wiley ridge took ALL day for us. with route finding problems and such. we left camp one at like 8 and got to camp on challanger at around 645. but if your fast and willing give it a shot. but it will be a ridiculusly long day with a shit load of elevation gain. 1600 to like 6800 or somehting like that. i personnally wouldnt recommend it but am not gunna say its impossible.

 

another option is to make it to say eiley of wiley lake the first day and then camp and climb challanger the next day...making the summit day alot longer but you wont have to carry so much stuff in and out. thats another idea. but again thats a hell of a day and wouldnt recommend it.

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Hrm. We were going to try and do Luna too. I winder if it's doable in reverse. One day to Luna base. Second day over Luna and to Challenger Glacier, Third day over Challenger and out to Wiley or further. Fourth day back to trailhead...

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