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[TR] J'Berg- NE Buttress 8/3/2005


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Climb: J'Berg-NE Buttress


Date of Climb: 8/3/2005


Trip Report:

Ivan and I climbed the NE buttress of J'Berg on Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday we climbed from the car to a bivy at the start of snow arete, at 7300. In the morning we quickly finished up the climb (everything hard is done by that part) and descended. I found the descent far more taxing than the ascent.



I'll spare the details since this TR has been written up quite a number of times before. Ivan will be posting a trip report later, most certainly laced with both profanity and witty prose. In short, we started on a left trending ramp a few hundred feet downhill of the snow finger to avoid any snow walking BS. We quickly met the standard route and began the upward schwack. We made quick progress to the snowpatch then continued above, eventually reaching the crest after a section of particularly thick pine thwacking. Once on the crest I found the long heather ridge to be quite enjoyable, and the progress there is quite fast. The only technical bit was at the "5.3" chimney, which, we both agree, is certainly not 5.3. Seems like there is a wide consensus on this. After that crap a moderately long strech of loose forth class led to the snow arete. Around five or so we bivied here, which is one of the most amazing bivies ever. Our day hadn't been super taxing since we had kept a moderate but steady pace so we enjoyed the full ambience. I was glad we didn't push to the summit, despite it being less than two hours away.


In the morning we awoke with the sun hitting us and finished up the route. The only noteable section on the snow was crossing a crevase where the uphill wall was about 5 feet higher and three feet across. The "bridge" was just some loose chunky snow so it required a large step across and a couple steps of "ice climbing." Perhaps my route finding could have avoided this altogether but it was kind of fun. From there we scrambled to the summit and started the walk down. The way down is just tedious. The 1500 feet up to "Doug's direct" was also quite unpleasent. I think the heat made a huge difference. Looking back I think it would have been much less taxing had it not been sixty million degress on the south side of the mountain. The way down from Doug's Direct is pretty easy. Some scrambling brought us to slabs and a section of snowpatch linking until we reached a knoll where we met the climbers trail. The trail down mixup arm is incredibly beautiful. That was one of the coolest places I have been me thinks. And, of course, the day was finished off by the 652 switchbacks down from Cascade Pass.



I really enjoyed the route. I think we did well (or got lucky, more likely) on the lower part of the route and picked a good line. It felt direct and didn't feature any major impasses. There was one neat slab traverse too. The upper part on the crest was quite enjoyable due to the views and the exposure. The loose rock sucked, but I was certainly prepared for its prescense so it wasn't a shock. The snow arete and glacial face to the top is a great finish. It is getting down that sucks. That is the only thing that would keep me from repeating the route any time in the near future.




Gear Notes:

Small alpine rack (a few cams, a few nuts)

Double runners (had 7, even more would be useful)

lightweight axe and aluminum crampons

GLOVES (I would have brought gardening gloves had I remembered)

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Indeed the route de jour. smile.gif I was just about to PM you...sorry, no luck on the tool. frown.gif We actually ended up not going up the section where you guys ended up rapping. Instead of going into those trees to the left, we traversed up and across the slabs (moderate, but not much pro) to some trees higher up to the right.

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how can i add to josh's effervescent ebbulience?


perhaps a series of serious understatements will be good enough to understand our experience:

1. it was hot

2. it was buggy

3. the approach is short

4. the bivy was scenic

5. the first part of the climbing is brushy

6. the south side is dry

7. if rapping on a single 60 m rope, the first rappel off the red-sling nelson mentions requires 5.13 downclimbing abilities


highlights to my mind:

1. discovering the best way to get my pack through the vegetable wall of tree branches was to take my axe off and either keep it in a hand or through a gear loop

2. the feeling of being on an old-school route - there's several places w/ old rotten hemp? rope - it takes no fancy modern gear to climb this monster, just willingness to climb like you're in a continous bar-fight, in sight of civilization but beyond salavation in the event of a serious fuck-up

3. witnessing a half-dozen major serac collapses on the glacier west of the buttress - the debris pile at the base of the mountain was noticably larger when we got back down to the p-lot

4. seeing my first black bear here in the northwest - just below the toe of the triplets buttress while josh and i fervently dried to slurp a few ounces of bitterly foul swamp water out of the dried up streams - he could have cared less about either of us

5. the uber-scenic bivy at the base of the snow arete - a flat space in a world of tilted mean-ness, complete w/ amenities like running water, vertigo-inducing bathroom, cooking counters, gear organizing tables, instant suicide-access, etc.

6. the increasing waves of nauseu resulting from josh's sociopathetic zeal in trundling rubble - every tv-sized boulder that crashed relentlessly thousands of feet down in a cloud of gun-smoke seemed in my mind to resemble the arcs and lines of body heading off to the hereafter - man, i love simul-soloing for hours on end!


enough talk! now is the time on sprockets when we show the pictures!


our path up the ne buttress, with the coolest bivy ever marked


our wending-way up the lower buttress, eschewing hte drama of the gully above the snowpatch for the relative simplicity of tree-humping right to the crest


a cascade novelty, harness and helmet on in parking lot and 10 minutes to the route!


fun climbing on the slabs just below the snowpatch - josh led right into the swell vietnam-reminscent jungle beyond


a frequent image on the lower buttress -note the rope on left leading towards the mystery leader off in search of sasquatch


wow, actual rock to climb! heading rightwards towards the crest above the snowpatch


emerging from the woods onto the steep heather


view west of the buttress at the continously toppling and roaring glaciers


typical climbing on the steep heather, frequent rockbands - all easy - pro on the shrubbery - an ice axe works great for getting traction!


the view down the buttress, just before nelson's pin and the rotten chimney pitch


the pin for rapping into the "snow" gulley (nothing but choss and sand currently, and excellently steep walls for funneling certain death down on top of your head smile.gif , note the chimney up and to the left - not hard, but not 5.3 for sure - good pro below to protect the belayer, and a chockstone for protecting the crux - the right wall is really intersting, choss overlaid w/ an ancient capstone rock that's almost totally peeled off now


view down the butt from the chimney belay


the most excellent bivouac in evening's glow


tasty dinner! but you can't guess what's going on in my mind right about now...


the snow arete just above the bivy leading to the summit


summit cheese and fulfilling a favor for a friend


traversing under the s side of the east ridge, a vital punch in your quest to become the world's greatest chossmonaut


josh in front of formidable, very close to the first rap anchor off the false summit


josh in action on rap#3


the world famous "doug's direct" - enough beta-spraying, here's a damn picture - go there!


the view south from the cairn marking doug's direct - note the toe of the triplet's buttress at top right (close by our bear encounter)


the pleasing, pastoral, buchollic traverse back to cascade pass from the cache glacier (shortly after a much needed safety meeting)


who can explain this wacky wonder? just above cascade pass on the climbers trail this apparent frozen waterfall can be found - calcium deposits leaching out of the rock?


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Hey Josh and Ivan:


You guys rock. Way to do it in fine style. Looking at your pictures, many of them are almost identical to ones I took with film -- the heather sections, the rope disappearing into the woods above, the glacier to the climber's right, etc. Brings back poignant memories.


If you put what I think you did in the register, then you saved me a return trip! Thanks so much. Check your PM Ivan for my note in this regard (did my reply go through? My system is hinky tonight).


Your picture nails "Doug's Direct" just right. The "heather tongue" is the ticket! We all owe REI Board member/Cascade Hardman Doug Walker for that one. All his idea; I just named it.


As for the alleged 5.3 chimney high on the route, we rapped into the snow gully from Jim's Ti pin and climbed continuous steep hard snow to the arete, so had no idea of the rating if you go left and climb the rock. I cribbed the 5.3 reference from Fred when helping Jim and Peter write that section. Concensus is it's 5.8; JIM: if you're reading this, can you change it in the 2nd ed. of Vol. II?


I think MVS said it well -- it is what it is -- and it's cool if you're drawn to that sort of thing. I also really like Ivan's "constant bar-fight" analogy. Very apt. So close to the road, but so damn far in so many ways. You have to keep punching. We were kind of fed up with the whole thing as we sat just below the summit pyramid before starting down the E. Ridge.


And we later felt incredibly relieved to be walking up the road to the car on day two of our planned one-day trip. The only other time I recall that kind of relief when walking away from something was after getting out of jail in college after two nights behind bars. A good story in its own right. Of course, our relief after J'Berg only lasted until the ranger's helicopter landed in the parking lot. Whoops.


This route is by no means the hardest one around -- not even close. But it seems to leave a strong and lasting impression on the average white guy.




John Sharp

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