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JoshK

first ascent [TR] Northern Picket Range- Surviving the Fence (N

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Nice job! Please send an e-mail when you guys are ready to show the trip and tell the story by slide projector and beers.

The photos of this trip are excellent. I can't wait to see the rest.

 

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A pal of mine wanted to do this. I told him You better hurry up and go get it 'cause that Wayne guy is going to beat you to it! Well, Wayne and Josh, you guys deserve it.

 

thumbs_up.gifWay to go man! bigdrink.gifrockband.gif

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those are some really incredible photos. I'll have to get out there and do something there next summer when I'm back in WA.

 

Great job guys

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Ah, yeah...feelin' the alpine goodness. Very nice TR, and pics. You guys definitely deserve a few bigdrink.gifbigdrink.gifbigdrink.gif for this one.

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Great job, awesome effort!

 

""The final time came in shortly less than 6 days.""

 

So 3 days climbing and 1-1/2 days each on approach and descent?

 

""For additional information please contact Uncage the Bowels productions.""

 

Is that at the 1-800-GOT-POOP number? All I got was unintelligible farting noises.

 

""Summits: Luna -> E Fury -> W Fury -> Swiss -> Spectre -> Phantom -> Ghost -> Crooked Thumb -> Challenger ""

 

So from your climb order and Becky's description and other pics I'm assuming the pic on page 121 of Becky's red guide is wrong, it's got Crooked Thumb and Ghost backwards.

 

""Gear Notes: ""

 

Did you take crampons? Did you need them?

 

Did you take a stove? Did you have to melt snow for water at the three high camps?

 

Did you both use the Trango S (or similar) boots exclusively?

 

""Approach Notes:

Used Access Creek for approach and Eiely-Wiley Ridge for the deproach.""

 

Was the Eiely-Wiley ridge hard route finding and exposed/ tricky scrambling? From Nelson's description it sounds like it.

 

Was the power boat ride available in both directions on the lake? I'm assuming you took the Big Beaver Creek trail approach and return.

 

""We ended up doing a double rope rappel down a nearly vertical wall.""

 

Do you think it could have been done with a single 50M and an intermediate anchor, or was the rock blank? Was there other rappels over 25M?

 

What was the longest section/ pitch of technical climbing and what was the hardest technical grade?

 

""I will write up a full TR ""

 

eagerly anticipated

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Great job, awesome effort!

 

""The final time came in shortly less than 6 days.""

 

So 3 days climbing and 1-1/2 days each on approach and descent?

 

Yes, basically.

 

""For additional information please contact Uncage the Bowels productions.""

 

Is that at the 1-800-GOT-POOP number? All I got was unintelligible farting noises.

 

""Summits: Luna -> E Fury -> W Fury -> Swiss -> Spectre -> Phantom -> Ghost -> Crooked Thumb -> Challenger ""

 

So from your climb order and Becky's description and other pics I'm assuming the pic on page 121 of Becky's red guide is wrong, it's got Crooked Thumb and Ghost backwards.

 

I dont have a beckey guide on me, so, sorry, can't answer

 

""Gear Notes: ""

 

Did you take crampons? Did you need them?

 

Yes, and very much needed them. We traversed some very steep snow in a couple of places.

 

Did you take a stove? Did you have to melt snow for water at the three high camps?

 

Yes, took a stove, but thanks to me forgetting the large fuel can we had only one small one and had to ration very strict. We found running water at all camps, which saved our asses.

 

Did you both use the Trango S (or similar) boots exclusively?

 

Boots only. No rock shoes. We also took tennis shoes as far as Luna camp for both directions of that section of big beaver trail.

 

""Approach Notes:

Used Access Creek for approach and Eiely-Wiley Ridge for the deproach.""

 

Was the Eiely-Wiley ridge hard route finding and exposed/ tricky scrambling? From Nelson's description it sounds like it.

 

Not trickey scrambling, but some route finding for sure. Wayne had done it so we were ok. The way down through the steep forest sucks, but his previous trip got us through it pretty quickly.

 

Was the power boat ride available in both directions on the lake? I'm assuming you took the Big Beaver Creek trail approach and return.

 

Yup, boat both ways to the big beaver dock.

 

""We ended up doing a double rope rappel down a nearly vertical wall.""

 

Do you think it could have been done with a single 50M and an intermediate anchor, or was the rock blank? Was there other rappels over 25M?

 

Not sure, since we didn't have to look. It could have been very difficult to get an anchor in between. I would never, personally, take a 50m rope on that route with no secondary rope.

 

What was the longest section/ pitch of technical climbing and what was the hardest technical grade?

 

I think we settled on 5.7, but never really discussed it much. The section from the bottom of ghost to the challenger summit was the most sustained rock climbing, overall. Ghost had a few "technical" pitches as did Crooked Thumb.

 

""I will write up a full TR ""

 

eagerly anticipated

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""I would never, personally, take a 50m rope on that route with no secondary rope.""

 

After reading about your previous retreat I'm guessing this is so it's easier to rap off the ridge if necessary?

 

""We also took tennis shoes as far as Luna camp for both directions of that section of big beaver trail. ""

 

So Luna camp is before the turnoff to go up Access creek?

 

How was the river crossing of Beaver Creek? .

 

How bad was the crossing on the Challenger glacier? Would you have crossed it unroped?

 

""I dont have a beckey guide on me""

 

2637Becky1.jpg

 

 

 

Thanks for your replies.

 

487576-Becky1.jpg.bb3ea032eaeccd491ee605dcd42fd146.jpg

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big indescrepacny between the labels on that photo, and the labels on becky's other photo from father away.

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As an aside, whatever you do, DONT climb N Ridge of Crooked Thumb from the notch pointed to in this picture. Its the wrong notch. The correct notch is the next one closer to the peak, which is accessed easily from the W side of the spine, from West-Middle Challenger col.

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""I would never, personally, take a 50m rope on that route with no secondary rope.""

 

After reading about your previous retreat I'm guessing this is so it's easier to rap off the ridge if necessary?

 

More than anthing, the security of that second rope is worth it. having to do that long rap without it would have sucked.

 

""We also took tennis shoes as far as Luna camp for both directions of that section of big beaver trail. ""

 

So Luna camp is before the turnoff to go up Access creek?

 

Yes, by a mile or so.

 

How was the river crossing of Beaver Creek?

 

Considering I don't really recall the specifics, I assume it was easy smile.gif I think we took off our boots but it was a short and easy wade. .

 

How bad was the crossing on the Challenger glacier? Would you have crossed it unroped?

 

Considering the difficulty of the traverse as a whole, the mild crossing of the challenger glacier is the least of your concerns...

 

""I dont have a beckey guide on me""

 

2637Becky1.jpg

 

 

 

Thanks for your replies.

 

Yes, the picture definitely has the peaks reversed. I don't know anything about the "notch" since we climbed everything directly from the ridge, but it seems Alex knows what he is talking about, so I would asusme he knows what he is saying. smile.gif

 

I must ask out of curiosity since you have a bunch of questions...are you considering a repeat of the traverse?

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"I must ask out of curiosity since you have a bunch of questions...are you considering a repeat of the traverse?"

 

Didn't know it was a first ascent (traverse)? Extra kudos then.

 

Not this year, no vacation days left, wanted to catch you while it's still fresh in your mind.

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Join us at the slide show:

 

Wednesday, September 21

Feathered Friends Retail Store, Seattle

7:00-9:00 pm

Free to the Public

Donations Graciously Accepted

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I was in Colorado poaching lines when this went down. Way to go guys! What a great traverse. Seems everyone is out getting it done and traverses are de rigueur this season.

 

Cheers

 

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My trip report.

So it took forever to get this going an I apologize. I am going to polish it and submit it so bear with me.

 

TRAVERSING THE PICKETS: The Summit Ridge Traverses

 

No matter how content with success a climber gets atop the heights, the compulsion to gaze from one summit to the next goal is irresistible. Even before the high fives met atop the summit of the Frenzlespitz, eyes were working out the intricate ridge of incredible summits the north. We had just completed my dream traverse over all 14 summits of the indescribable Southern Picket Range in the rugged North Cascade National Park. No sooner had that obsession consummated; the next epic was in the works.

Fred Becky himself would call trips into these ranges”expeditons”. Yet before his personal explorations into this true wilderness, the place was a secret only the toughest enjoyed. The peaks alone would have been daunting enough without the legendary brush toils and brutally lengthy approaches. It would be exhilarating to have stood in William Degenhardt and Herbert Strandburgs’ boots when they became the first modern climbers to summit one of these elusive pinnacles. In 1931 the climbed to the central summit of the south Picket ridge, naming it after Mr. Degenhadrt .Eventually more gluttons for punishment would follow them. Bill Cox and Will Thompson would do a journey there that would put today’s alpinists to utter shame. Their 1937 super-traverse led them over many new summits even beyond the Pickets. Then the sun would shine on the Becky boys during a 10 day odyssey in 1940 that would send them across 8 summits in both North and South ranges.

Serial masochists would develop addiction to the wild only this place offered. These macho mountains history would take a decidedly feminine turn. Joan and her husband, Joe would make this place their weekend routine for decades. Later in the century John Roper, Silas Wild, Mike Swayne, Ed Cooper and others would follow this pattern even into this century. So great is the pull of these mountains.

What is it about this place that brings adventurer’s here time after time? “It is truly the wildest and most rugged place there is”, says pioneer John Roper.” There are still great things to be done here. There are still unexplored corners left, and this assures an adventurous outing”

A new level of both joy and pain I found on my first trip. The elegant NE buttress on Mt Fury was everything I could want in an alpine climb in 1995. The amazing climb was to be my new measuring stick for future ascents. It was in 2001 though when the first taste of traverse torture took form. The mountain was Challenger, and we wanted to see both sides of it. I got the creative idea of sending another team from the other direction to meet at the summit exchange car keys and go out the other way. Traverses then would occupy my thoughts developing into a raging obsession when I discovered the Southern Pickets had not seen a Croft style summit ridge traverse. My mind would close on it like a vise.

The new-route doubts flooded my timid planning: Could it be done? Could one carry everything necessary?, Would it be worth doing/Will I find a capable partner? The last question would both be answered yet threatening when Colin Haley took to the idea. To my horror, his enthusiasm would lead him into an attempt on the project before I even had a chance at it! He would cross seven of the summits with Mark Bunker before the typical Picket weather would set in. After a couple of goes at it myself, a stable high pressure built in, and I had no one to go with me. In desperation, I again approached Colin, only to be told he was planning to climb it again going there with Mark!. Perfectly willing to beg and grovel, I convinced them both: NOW was the time!

The 3 Picketeers would join forces in July of 2003 and Head in together up Goodell Creek for what would be one of the greatest times of their young lives. We quickly dispensed with the approach and cleared the first 3 McMillan Spires. The climbing and camaraderie was indescribably wonderful as we worked and played our way along this ridge over the next 2 days. As the 4th and final day went on, we glowed with such an overwhelming sense of fun and satisfaction the likes I haven’t seen before! 4 days 50 pitches, 25 rappels,4 FA’s, and 385 smiles, left us so jacked we didn’t even feel tired from our efforts.

As an obsessive-compulsive will do, I was soon preparing for the North end of the Picket Fence. The 2 other Southern Picketeers weren’t as hot for the idea. The rock quality wouldn’t be as good and it would be much longer. Cascadeclimbers.com would introduce me to a character named Josh Kaplan. I could see he had the spirit for the project based upon his discourse on the site. He was immediate on the idea and we planned it over the phone eventually meeting the day of departure for our first go at it. A friend of a friend demanded we start the traverse with the North Ridge of Whatcom peak to start the 12 miles of Alpine ridge. This would later turn out to be bad advice. We hiked in 18 tough miles the first day. The next we flew up and over Whatcom and across the big Challenger Glacier to the summit of Challenger Peak. The ridge was to start out nasty immediately after the summit. The “grain” of the crest worked against us as we tediously labored across for slow mile after mile. Short and long rappels burned though all 50 feet of our tat cord, and the weather coming in made us doubly nervous. Struggling in a white out now and desperately tired, we made a camp just below the summit of the very pointed Ghost Peak. “Anxiety Bivy” was a thirsty and frightful place for us as we wondered what the hell we were doing up here. All we saw was fog waiting to turn to rain in the morning. After we decided to bail, we somehow got down the huge mountain face below Phantom Ghost col. With tails firmly between our legs, we trotted over to Luna to call the boat company for an early ride out. I didn’t think I would be back for another attempt.

After our memories of fear and pain wore off, we started talking about the traverse again. We agreed we went the wrong the direction. Among the other lessons we learned, we had done a terrible job of managing our effort. We had tried to do too much in our first couple of days. As the season drew near, I manically began planning. Buying weight scales and scrutinizing every piece of equipment became my passion. I found that my tent could stand with ski pole instead of tent poles. Remarkably our packs started out less than 30 lbs, and we were ready for 7 long days.

The boat ride and Big Beaver Trail would lead us to our first camp. Luna Camp would also be our first cache. Leaving our tennis shoes and fun food behind, we made our way up Access creek in the next morning. Our second camp would be at the start of the ridge itself. The view from Luna Col is one the most incredible I have seen. This 360 degree panorama however was poisoned by 2 things; the weather totally sucked again and we discovered this cold trip was to be either stopped now or we had to do it with only one small fuel canister. I consoled a Stressed Josh by offering a revised plan which didn’t include melting snow, hot drink, or real hot meals. . “We can still do this” I timidly offered. Our drinking tubes were to prove their value many times over collecting water.

Day 3: The morning of the 13th was the start of the 9+ mile long alpine traverse of the Northern Picket Range. Two nervous intruders made there way up the East summit of Fury in a white out. The “Commitment Zone” lay ahead. From here on climbing would be difficult and treacherous, the descents would be scarce. West Fury was uneventful except for on the way down we were going down the wrong ridge into the west drainage when the clouds lifted just enough to see this terrible mistake in the making. Re-climbing Fury we the set into a series of rappels that would stagger our imagination. The final rap was down a huge vertical cliff that required both of our ropes we had brought. We were glad too that we didn’t have to climb the cliff on our previous attempt. Sever difficult leads transpired on our way across the ridge until we rapped into a glacier col after West Fury. We made a camp on the snow in a wind hollow . A rock patio would provide some insulation from a freezing night ,in a place we dubbed “Ice Station Zebra”.

We rejoiced in the clear skies we saw in the new morning! It seemed we might actually catch a break, right up to the point we saw our first high clouds. DAMN!, “ We have 12-24 hrs I screamed to Josh.” We did not need to be hurried traveling over loose and dangerous rock, but we were about to get even more rainy weather. We raced over the remaining small peaksand ridge mazes ,reaching the Spectre plateau and finding the easy way up Swiss Peak. Phantom Peak provide some off-route fun as we went over the “Cub Scout Salute “ and back. Steep snow traverses led across to a spot to where we could summit the very remote formations. We were approaching our previous high point (php) . we relized there would be few bivouacs between the php and the way ahead. Sticking to the idea of not trying not to get too tired each day we camped early, finding a beautiful spot right at the php in the Phantom- Ghost Peak Col. Rationalizing this , I said “All we need is 6 good hours to finish the climb”.

We were to get 4.

Across Ghost we zoomed together in a smooth simo. I first noticed the moisture beginning to collect on the rope. The amazing knife edge arête of Challenger turned desperately steep and slippery as it began to rain. The winds pick up heavy and the rain turned to ice pellets briefly. Our mood became dour and grim. We knew we had helped produce a very risky environment. The foot holds became like ice. Handholds were the only thing keeping us up there. Josh was wearing gloves. With all we had put into it, we simply weren’t going to bail. It was as if the great range was making sure we were worthy. We came over the end with not a bang, but a whimper. The decompression was absolutely numbing. I could not talk or think. I saw the same look in my partner, we had survived this time. We had pushed our lives into a zone we may deserve to be criticized for. We had also lived our dreams, the dreams of a most amazing mountain odyssey. There would be no time for celebrating though The cold-play was still in ouf face still though, We were 2 days from being dry or warm, as the 30 hr strom spilled its water . Tough-guy Josh had no rain gear , relying on a down jacket when needed. Eiley-Wiley Ridge is a long and torturous way out of the area. Since we were facing a wet bivy, we wanted to get as far down as possible so we marched on and on into the evening.I was not comfortable going down the last 3000 feet into Big Beaver. There was no visibility and it was o be dark soon.

A miserable, and long night was in store, as I dreamt of flooding, swimming, and rescue.The sickly light dawned on our chilled aching bodies. We got warmed up with the steep final plunge into the brush. Reaching the valley below, the life line of our wonderful trail system was now ours again. The warmer air was such a relief, as we began celebrating the biggest thing we could have imagined. What joy we felt after so many days of intense concentration!

Wanting to get out a day early, I took much of the weight and let Josh run ahead to try to get a boat that day. Our luck would be complete as we enjoyed or caches and early departure after 6 life changing days. It was truly the greatest of times. We had gone 60+ miles, 10 of them fully alpine. We had crossed 9 of the most remote peaks out there. The mighty Pickets had been crossed.

With a heavy heart we share this jewel of a wilderness with the masses.

 

May it be our supreme wish that all the wild lands be kept as pure as they can be?

 

Dates:

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That's a great trip report Wayne - really shows your (and Josh's) determination, and enjoyment in the face of adversity!

 

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