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chucK

[TR] Mount Index- Index Traverse 7/23/2005

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Climb: Mount Index-Index Traverse

 

Date of Climb: 7/23/2005

 

Trip Report:

 

Prologue: (Skip over this part if you just want the climbing action stuff. Or hell, if you're so damn strapped for time just glance over the damn pictures, sheesh!)

 

Early in July Otto had so much fun watching me tumble and scrape at Index Town Wall that we decided we should make a date to climb for the whole weekend (!) sometime in late July. The date came nearer and Otto confessed a "mania" (no, I am not making this up) for the Index Peak Traverse. He had previously summited the North Peak, and I had previously attempted the East (descent) route, so together, we had the climb bracketed. How difficult could all that stuff in the middle possibly be?

 

A drive up Hwy 2 (my sister, with LA roots, calls it "the Two"), the week before indicated an absence of handy snowpatches for water en route. A short but violent thundershower or two the day before our scheduled departure, combined with the Beckey words of, "slabs, may be problematic if wet", were enough to start thinking "backup plan". But enough of this pre-climb jitters nonsense...(I mean, none of you really care about this part do you?)

 

267index717.jpg

Mt. Index from the 2

 

The actual climbing part:

 

We arrived at the base of the N Ridge around 8ish Saturday morning with our carefully thought out mini-minimal bivy gear supplemented with around 6 lbs. (3 liters) of water. The day, so far, was quite foggy and overcast, and we crossed paths in the bush with a pair retreating due to their disdain for the wetness confused.gif.

 

The air was wet, but the rock fairly dry, as we scrambled up a few hundred feet on solid red rock to a nest of rap slings on old pitons where we roped up. Three pitches of rock, the last of which got sorta sketchy past a bunch of old pitons, got us to a point where we declared ourselves off route (probably Beckey's "longer" alternate up the face of the rock bowl). Luckily we found a wonderful brush-covered catwalk which transported us right back on route to the wonderful brush-covered N Face bowl. Two more brush-lovely sideways rope drags got us to the North Rib.

 

North Rib = cool, one pitch especially so. Sorta airy, pretty solid rock, just a bit o bush. I think the especially fun pitch is pictured below, behind the smiling Otto.

 

dsc01172.jpg

North Rib of North Peak

 

North Peak was attained and we made those silly "one finger" things while sticking our tongues out to indicate bagging the first peak of the traverse. Then we ate lunch.

 

Getting down from the North Peak into the notch was probably the sketchiest part of the traverse. Downclimb mossy steep chossy gulley, rappel off detached block, scramble across exposed dirty ledge, rap again, repeat.

 

dsc01178.jpg

Exposed ledges getting over to North-Middle peak notch

 

dsc01184.jpg

View of North Peak from the South

 

Once down in the notch of committment, we had a bit of doubt as to the correct route to continue. Our first guess worked. We climbed steeply up chimneys and such with a bunch of loose looking things (but not very many actually were loose), which brought us to a majorly cool exposed ridge. Many pitches on this thing brought us to the Middle Peak summit about 8ish. Silly two finger, stick tongue out thing.

 

dsc01196.jpg

Otto leading on ridge

 

dsc01198.jpg

Otto following on ridge

 

dsc01203.jpg

Ridge without Otto (taken from Middle Peak)

 

We bivied down on the SE shoulder of the Middle Peak. We found no snow or water, but because of the nice cool temps in the morning, we each still had about 2 liters of water. Also, a snowpatch was spied down in the Middle/main peak notch, so we knew we'd have water in the morning. Thus, we could party down. Otto got blotto (well, not really, but I had to write that somewhere).

 

Otto shivered miserably that night with his bivy bag-space blanket combo, while I was supremely comfortable with my newly-purchased fancy-pancy ultralightweight sleeping bag ( click me ).

 

Day two found us melting some snow with my newly-purchased fancy-pancy ultralightweight stove then trying to figure out what the hell a damn "wedge gendarme" is. Well, we found it, and it added a bit more exposed ridge climbing. Then scary steep heather mixed with scary steep loose gulley traverse, a bit more of the hateful hateful brush then topside! One PM. Three fingers, wag tongue.

 

Walk down was cool. We came across these idyllic little tarns a bit like Tank Lakes or the Enchantments even, where we did some easy bouldering.

 

dsc01211.jpg

Tarns on the backside of Index

 

dsc01213.jpg

Great frictiony rock for easy bouldering

 

We located Beckey's obvious gulley (go left from idyllic little tarns). It is completely melted out. Fun scrambling on surprisingly clean steep rock got us down. At one giant overhang we utilized a fixed rope to make a 50' free rapell (possibly could have downclimbed on skiers right).

 

After this the descent pretty much sucked. Steep talus, the kind that's usually covered with snow, so is now precariously perched, sucked. Then the bushy steep ridge was minorly sucky. Then finding ourselves lost in impenetrable brush, worse than any on the climb so far, added a final stab and scrape of suckiness (lot's of berries though!). Finally, we stumbled past Lake Serene, then trudged down superhighway trail to car.

 

Fun!

 

Epilogue: I have heard a few people recommend this as a good climb to do...once.

 

Gear Notes:

Medium rack (single cams + stoppers)

One 60m rope

Approach shoes

Extra water

 

Approach Notes:

Snow for water currently in Middle-Main peak notch

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Awesome job -- #3 of the blue collar triple crown. You only have Jberg and Nooksack to go (if you haven't done them already.

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Good job on that Chuck.

Although the index traverse looks cool and is a grade 5, I

would never really recommend it.We climbed it in the mid

1980's on the hottest day of the summer in the end of June.

We started up the north face and found it to be nothing but

a brush pull nearly all the way to the summit.To our surprise there was another party on the north peak summit.

They had huge packs,bright colored helmets,and shorts over

long johns.Holly shit mountaineers.Two intermediate mountaineer instructors as it turns out.Having never climbed Mt.index before,I asked them if they knew the way

down to the middle-north peak notch.They replied by saying they are experts and knew the way from prior ascents while looking at our small packs,shabby clothing,and lack of

helmets suspiciously.So I tell them to lead on and we'll

follow after we wait and let them get ahead.We end up lounging on the summit for nearly an hour while smoking

a huge reefer.We finally decide they are well in front and

decend to the north-middle peak notch.After we do a short

rap and 5 minutes of down climbing,we catch them and have

to wait another half hour for them move across the last few feet to the notch.Keep in mind the notch is a rather

remote and exposed place.Unwilling to let us pass,the first

mountaineer starts to lead the crux 5.6 pitch out of the

notch to the middle summit.After 25' or so he takes a wipper and backs down to the belay.So his buddy decides to

take over and after a long while climbs past his partners

high point and out of sight.After a few minutes of no movement,all hell breaks loose with scraping,screaming,and

yelling,and rock fall echoing down the gully to lake Serene.Finally silence,except for the moaning of the

mountaineer instructor above.It turned out,he took a huge

wipper and hurt himself.Not wanting to wait behind these clowns any longer,we decide to take the 5.7 variant to the

right out of the notch.My partner leads this pitch by doing

a tension traverse to the right and up sparsely protected

climbing,one of his better leads.We are out of water and need to get to the middle summit snow patch soon.We get back on route where the injured mountaineer is bringing up

his partner.As I pass him on my way to the middle summit for snow melt,he informs me that he has re-injured his ribs

and will be needing a rescue.He apparently broke his ribs

while descending from the Mt.Idex traverse last year and he

and his partner were back on the mountain for re-demption.

He wants us to stay with him and his partner on his cramped

belay for the night saying it was impossible to go any further with night approaching.I ony shake my head in amazement and continue to the middle summitt which we reach

after only 15 minutes for much needed snow melt..

The following day we climb the main summit and do one of the more miserable descents I have done in the Cascades.The

descent getting back to the lake is a major jungle,often

we would hand over hand down tree vines to descend short cliffs.By the time I reached the car my white tee shirt was completely green.It was a stressfull weekend.

Meanwhile,my partner calls the sheriff for a rescue of

the two mountaineer instructors stranded on the middle

summit.The next day a navy helicopter pulls the two

mountaineers off the mountain and takes them to a hospital

in Everett where they are released and walk away with minor

injuries.The most amazing thing is the injured climber wrote up his accident in the North American Accident journal the following year.Its in the 1987 one I believe.

Check it out for the real facts.

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Noting the nodding tendency of my driver, I took the wheel and had us at Index by 4AM. The Approach was the old gulley scramble up the avalanche chute complete with dead hiker at the base of the lower shoulder (we didn't see him but found out he was there when we passed).

We opted to simulclimb immediately and cruised to the traverse pitch in no time. From there, we went straight up into the fog hoping to break through. It was pure heather scrambling for three or four pitches until we got to the top of the tower left of the snowfield. This was where we finally got a glimps of the upper wall. There was not much more brush. Just rock and ice. Unfortunately, we did not have any ice tools with us. We continued up the face to a right leaning corner that was going quite easily until I hit ice. Then it was over. Bad bug. No summit. It was a fun looking route though. I keep meaning to go back up and finish it but the time just keeps getting scarcer.

Edited by jon

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I did the traverse a while back and I thought it was a worthwhile outing -- even better than that, a classic -- but in a Cascades kind of way. I might even do it again some day. Good one, Mr ChucK. You can now drive Highway 2 past Mt. Index and stare it straight in the face.

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Awesome job -- #3 of the blue collar triple crown. You only have Jberg and Nooksack to go (if you haven't done them already.

 

Ha! I like that bit.

 

Good climb gents!

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I did the traverse a while back and I thought it was a worthwhile outing -- even better than that, a classic -- but in a Cascades kind of way.

Well put, Matt. I also did it many years back. Even though we got rained on overnight while bivied on the Middle summit, and even though we summited the Main peak in a dense fog and couldn't find the descent and had to spend a second night on the Main summit, and even though it SNOWED on us that night (this is in August and the precip chance was 10%), I agree the traverse is a classic. In a Cascades kind of way, for sure, but a classic nonetheless.

 

Good job guys!

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anyone who would NOT recommend the index traverse and goes on to complain about a bit of brushy downclimbing ought to move to colorado. fucking wank.

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I had a good laugh at your description of the route since we encountered most of the same dilemmas when we did it a couple of years ago. Wedge gendarme ? etc. I would like to point out that the "5.6" section in between the north and middle peaks (where the Mounties fell) is a lot harder than 5.6.

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Have to agree with Mattp- I think the Index Traverse is kind of a must do for the dedicated Cascades climber. The climbing itself is admittedly not very aesthetic for most of the time (wear pants!), but where the climb is worthwhile is for the exposure, position, and the commitment. Halfway along the traverse, on the Middle peak, there's the road seemingly right down below you, yet you feel very committed and 'out there'. The rock is loose, you're on this sharp, exposed ridge, and retreat options are poor, especially after the north-middle traverse. It's a wild place to be yet so close to civilization. The pitch out of the north/middle notch does seem harder than 5.6 (especially in tennis shoes) but mainly it's just steep and loose with not the best protection. The only other area of any concern was this horrid dirt/choss gully on the Main peak which we crossed probably a bit too low- this involved surprisingly hard downclimbing on very loose rock and then picking carefully across steep, orange mud and dirt with a lot of exposure, and sparse protection. Going very high before crossing this gully probably would have avoided the worst of it. It looks like it is continuing to erode and only will get worse. Colin and I went 15 hours r/t from the car. There was no water until a beautiful pond near the top of the descent gully. And then, the best part- handful upon handful of plump,ripe blueberries just above Lake Serene, to ease the sting of the B5 bushwhacking. A classic outing!

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Yes, it's a classic. I'd wanted to do this for a long time, as chucK says it was a mania of mine. Tried it with a party of three, with my buddies Jake L. and John M. on the Fourth of July two years ago. We were too slow and just bivvied under the North Peak, drinking bourbon and watching the light show...

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anyone who would NOT recommend the index traverse and goes on to complain about a bit of brushy downclimbing ought to move to colorado. fucking wank.

why don't you run your mouth and I'll run my business

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Did u guys use a 60m single or double up a half rope? Also, do you think rock shoes were nescessary or would good climbing boots do the trick?

 

thanks,

-josh

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We used a single 60m. We pitched out a lot of stuff so a doubled skinny would've been a pain. Others might simul more, but the rock seemed loose enough frequently enough that we didn't simul much.

 

We both had approach shoes (Cinder Cones) no rock shoes. Rock shoes would have been no fun on the majority of the terrain.

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Good job on that Chuck.

Although the index traverse looks cool and is a grade 5, I

would never really recommend it.We climbed it in the mid

1980's on the hottest day of the summer in the end of June.

We started up the north face and found it to be nothing but

a brush pull nearly all the way to the summit.To our surprise there was another party on the north peak summit.

They had huge packs,bright colored helmets,and shorts over

long johns.Holly shit mountaineers.Two intermediate mountaineer instructors as it turns out.Having never climbed Mt.index before,I asked them if they knew the way

down to the middle-north peak notch.They replied by saying they are experts and knew the way from prior ascents while looking at our small packs,shabby clothing,and lack of

helmets suspiciously.So I tell them to lead on and we'll

follow after we wait and let them get ahead.We end up lounging on the summit for nearly an hour while smoking

a huge reefer.We finally decide they are well in front and

decend to the north-middle peak notch.After we do a short

rap and 5 minutes of down climbing,we catch them and have

to wait another half hour for them move across the last few feet to the notch.Keep in mind the notch is a rather

remote and exposed place.Unwilling to let us pass,the first

mountaineer starts to lead the crux 5.6 pitch out of the

notch to the middle summit.After 25' or so he takes a wipper and backs down to the belay.So his buddy decides to

take over and after a long while climbs past his partners

high point and out of sight.After a few minutes of no movement,all hell breaks loose with scraping,screaming,and

yelling,and rock fall echoing down the gully to lake Serene.Finally silence,except for the moaning of the

mountaineer instructor above.It turned out,he took a huge

wipper and hurt himself.Not wanting to wait behind these clowns any longer,we decide to take the 5.7 variant to the

right out of the notch.My partner leads this pitch by doing

a tension traverse to the right and up sparsely protected

climbing,one of his better leads.We are out of water and need to get to the middle summit snow patch soon.We get back on route where the injured mountaineer is bringing up

his partner.As I pass him on my way to the middle summit for snow melt,he informs me that he has re-injured his ribs

and will be needing a rescue.He apparently broke his ribs

while descending from the Mt.Idex traverse last year and he

and his partner were back on the mountain for re-demption.

He wants us to stay with him and his partner on his cramped

belay for the night saying it was impossible to go any further with night approaching.I ony shake my head in amazement and continue to the middle summitt which we reach

after only 15 minutes for much needed snow melt..

The following day we climb the main summit and do one of the more miserable descents I have done in the Cascades.The

descent getting back to the lake is a major jungle,often

we would hand over hand down tree vines to descend short cliffs.By the time I reached the car my white tee shirt was completely green.It was a stressfull weekend.

Meanwhile,my partner calls the sheriff for a rescue of

the two mountaineer instructors stranded on the middle

summit.The next day a navy helicopter pulls the two

mountaineers off the mountain and takes them to a hospital

in Everett where they are released and walk away with minor

injuries.The most amazing thing is the injured climber wrote up his accident in the North American Accident journal the following year.Its in the 1987 one I believe.

Check it out for the real facts.

this is funny but sounds about right :lmao:

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