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Jens

first ascent [TR] TR- Johannesburg Mt. - CK route F.A. Grade V, 5.10b, AI 3+ 8/27/2005

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Climb: TR- Johannesburg Mt. -CK route F.A. Grade V, 5.10b, AI 3+

 

Date of Climb: 8/27/2005

 

Trip Report:

I figured I'd take my first stab at a trip report with this format:

 

Several summers ago Loren Campbell and I attempted a direct line on the North Face of Johannesburg but had to retreat due to steep blank sections of rock. After some planning, we went back for round two with the same line. Johannesburg has always been a favorite mountain of mine to climb because on each trip J-burg seems to pull out something new from up its sleeve. In addition, the approach is perfect for someone as lazy as myself. The trend in the last couple of years has been to traverse lots of peaks or run routes together to get one big "climb". For those looking for a good adventure, Johannesburg delivers plus I was told that the North aspect has the greatest vertical rise in one horizontal mile anywhere in the U.S. outside of Alaska?

---

Last Saturday I picked Loren up at 1:00am in Issaquah, and after packing gear we left the cascade pass parking lot at approx. 4:30a.m. We traversed below the fan and the beautiful steep red wall that I always thought would make a great sport wall and passed several more sections of rock until we got to our start. We climbed through various pitches up to 5.8 until we were cliffed out by an World Wall 1-"esque" overhanging wall that ran all the way right to a waterfall. (The 1985 Kloke route takes slabby ramps to the right of the falls and goes up and onto the other side of a huge prow). After tryiing three different options we were ready to throw in the towell. I felt stupid because I'd promised Loren we'd make it through this section even if meant aiding through with pins, hooks, mashies, or whatever other monkey business was required- At the lot, I just packed a free rack. I decided to give on last overhanging chimney that was just left of a 15 foot horitzontal ceiling a try. I started up a face and then cut into the mossy chimney. Luckily it was late August and the moss was dry. Any earlier in the summer it would have been wet and unclimbable. I pulled through and let out a whoop of joy. The packs hauled easily out in space for the pitch. The belay would allow a base jumper a clean jump all the way to the talus. It wasn't like penguins in bondage at squamish or anything but the pitch was solid "index" 5.10. We scrambled up the slabs with the huge snout of the glacier looming above us. We were going to climb the left of the two beautiful hanging glaciers. The 1985 route was on the other side of a huge butress and pulls on to the right of the two hanging glaciers. We scrambled up 1,000 feet of low to mid fifth class rock.until we came to a prow of rock to the right of the start of the left hanging glacier. Just then, a huge section the size of 3 houses of the glacier calved off and scoured excatly over the rock we'd just climbed. Then as we were uncoling the rope, another mini willis wall size section cut loose. We were scared shitless. Had we stopped for 5 extra minutes lower on the route we'd have been toast. The snout of the glacier was overhung and onion peeling away. We agreed we'd have to get up a little ways on the rock and then climb onto the glacier. The snout of the thing looks small from the road, but when you are by it it makes the ice cliff glacier on Stuart look like snqoqualmie's bunny hill. We climbed about 200 feet of 5.7 rock untill we were able to downclimb onto the glacier. As soon as I saw the upper glacier, I was afraid that we were stuck and would have to traverse onto the slabby wooded ridge route that is in the Nelson Volume 2 guide. We figuered we'd give the glacier a go. Loren masterfull led off and we were using two tools right from the get go. We spent hours climbing in and out of crevasses trying to pick a line through. It was the most monkey business I'd ever done on a glacier in my whole life. Near the top, our hearts sank as we found oursleves dead ended. One crevasse that overhung a whole pitch blocked our path. We found a moat wall to the right that we were able to climb. Loren masterfully led a beautiful vertical AI3+ pitch to pull us through. We were thankfull for spending the last five winters doing a lot of waterfalls. We reached the top and traversed onto ramp where an ice wall brought us to the end of the snow arete of the before mentioned select climbs route. We trudged on to the summit. The glacier was like climbing up the ice cliff glacier on Mt. Stuart in mid summer two or three times. I was beat. We topped out and decided to descend beacuse the weather forcast for Sunday was poor. We descended and reached the CJ col at 2:30am and bivied. We'd been climbing for 22 hours except for the 1 hour of hiking across the talus. Next morning we hiked out Doug's Direct. The route was by far more committing than any of the numerous grade V's I've done in the Cascades. Pictures to come. Go do it! I'll give you a topo.

 

Gear Notes:

full rock rack, rock shoes, 2 ice tools each, ice screws

packs were hand hauled on vertical and overhanging pitches.

 

Approach Notes:

easy 1 hour approach

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Awsome line!!! J'berg the enigma. I can only imagine what all this warm weather has been doing to the glaciers up there!!

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Johannesburg delivers plus I was told that the North aspect has the greatest vertical rise in one horizontal mile anywhere in the U.S. outside of Alaska?

 

I actually believe I have read it is the greatest rise in North America, outside of Alaska, and the Denali area specifically.

 

That is fucking sick! Since somebody is going to do it, I guess I'll be the first to armchair climb. smile.gif I have to question the decision to climb right under an actively caving glacier (we watched it bust off a bunch a month ago when up there.) in the summer, and then to continue up said glacier. Maybe I'm picturing it much worse than it was, but that sounds like a LOT of objective hazard to take on. Don't take it as shit talking, that is one damn fine line. thumbs_up.gif

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Wicked job Jens and Loren! I can't believe you guys went back for that after the first time. awesome!

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Johannesburg delivers plus I was told that the North aspect has the greatest vertical rise in one horizontal mile anywhere in the U.S. outside of Alaska?

 

I actually believe I have read it is the greatest rise in North America, outside of Alaska, and the Denali area specifically.

 

 

not so true. maybe in the lower 48 but not for canada.

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Sounds exciting. It seems like this mtn is out to get you. I actually saw you when you were climbing out of the cascade pass area earlier this year (march?).

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not so true. maybe in the lower 48 but not for canada.

 

Well, i know I read this for certain, so put up some numbers. smile.gif The data compared average slope angle based on certain sqare mileage grid sections of either USGS maps or the Canadian equiv. If I recall correctly, the Denali area was steepest on the 6 and 12 (dont recall if it was sq miles, or X by X grids of the specified size) and the area centered around cascade pass or thereabouts steepest on the 20 and 40.

 

I definitely recall this being the way I read it, but the data may well be wrong, interpreted poorly, etc. so I would like to see if there is any measurement of camparison out there because it would be quite interesting.

-josh

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I bet there are plenty of faces in the Saint Elias and Fairweather ranges that are larger and at least as steep as Johannesburg, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were plenty of them in the Coast Range somewhere.

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Everything is subject to interpretation and here is yet another from Stephen Fry (see attachments in this post and next post).

495131-WAsteepfaces_onemile.jpg.eda4654e2937fe47ab55c8d3f4cb31dc.jpg

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Maybe we should move this discussion to another thread - it is actually pretty interesting but I feel bad jacking their TR.

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wow, like josh said, if ya'll were where i think you were i remember looking down there last month and thinking "what kind of a fool would put himself there?" huge icefall scouring the rock w/ nasty death and fuckall you can do about it if you're in the firing line. still, i'm sure ya'll enjoyed yourself and its great you pulled it off - i think i'll stick to the bushes though!

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Do you have any pics from the route? If not, I won't bemoan the lack, because a little photography low down might have added, what, about five minutes? hellno3d.gif I'm very glad to be reading your words rather than reading about you.

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OK, I'll come straight out and say it. It's obviously only my personal opinion, but I think pushing a route through the glacier polished slabs beneath that hanging glacier is a fine example of putting the possible glory of a FA above safety and sanity. That glacier calved over and over from my vantage on the NE Butt. More so, it isn't like the risk is unobvious. I can't imagine it wasn't blatently obvious that you were climbing directly underneath an extremely unstable glacier that frequently busted off through that very channel. The fact that you were climbing slabby bedrock is evidence enough that the glacier flowed through that direct path and now calves through that same path.

 

Now that there is a picture to look at, I don't think I could honestly say that there is any sort of line through that entire section. It isn't like there was a very brief crossing beneath a dangerous section to get onto another obvious rock feature. As you alluded to, it was a compromise to get around a route that appeared not to go through the natural (and protected) line.

 

I realize that there is always a tradeoff between percieved safety and the desire (sometimes nescessity) to push through completion, but in this case it seems that safety was heavily compromised in the name of completing a new route. I've never been critical of anybody's FA posted on here - I love to read them - so I hope you don't see it as senseless criticism. I just wanted to throw my opinion out there.

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Josh has a point, and of course you guys have huge balls. I remember being in the steep heather section of the N.E. Butt. in mid-July 1999 and watching/listening to shit calve off that glacier. I think Bob Davis remarked that he was glad he wasn't down there. I heartily agreed.

 

Way to go fellas. Doug Walker (aka Doug of Doug's Direct fame) and I often say, when and only when we reach the car, that we "cheated death yet again." In this case, it sounds like you really did.

 

Cheers,

 

John Sharp

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