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Cpt.Caveman

Johannesburg Mtn

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Mark and I climbed the 1957 NE Buttress route this past week. We skied up to the end of the Cascade River Road on the 28th. On the 29th, we stashed skis at the base of the buttress, and climbed to a bivy at the fairly level part of the buttress, at mid height. On the 30th we climbed up to the flat snow area just below the summit pyramid (choosing to rap into the couloir, rather than do the 5.3 variation). On the 31st we tagged the summit, and then started traversing towards the West Peak, and ended up bivying on the summit ridge, about 2/3 of the way there. On the 1st we tagged the West Peak, and then kept traversing the West Ridge, eventually downclimbing a SW gully. We traversed around the SW side of the peak, and then climbed up to a col in the West ridge (in other words, we used the west side descent/ascent route). We descended towards the North from the col in the West ridge, and got about 1,500 ft. down before bivying. On the 2nd we staggered down the rest of the slope to the Cascade River Road, and back to the car. Today we snowshoed back up to the face to retrieve our skis, but found them buried by avalanches!

 

We had very difficult weather and conditions, with lots of wallowing, and new snow every day and every night. I would not reccomend the West side descent route, unless you want to climb the West Peak specifically, because it was very long and tiring. It was a really fun winter route, and I'd reccomend it in general (although I would also reccomend waiting until later in the season, and for firmer/safer conditions). There is not much ice in that area yet, although it is definitely forming. The short three-tiered waterfall on the left, about 1 mile up-valley from Eldorado Creek looks like it will be climbable soon. To drive up to Eldorado Creek you will probably want to carry chains.

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Nice.....real nice cool.gif

 

How was the SW for the descent. If I ever grow the fortitude to climb that mountain (it scares me frown.gif) I have wondered about that for the descent (is it brushy?)

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As always, Colin is a man of susinct posts. In 24 years of "advanced backpacking", this was probably the most engaging climb I've done in the Cascades! He forgot to mention a few things: The technical crux early on (the tree climb / stem / dry-tool section), the DEEP wallowing, the cornice forming over the tent and the subsequent digging out during the first night on the route, the tent walls collecting sheets of ice on the inside every night thereafter, the DEEP ASS wallowing, the occassional clearing and stunning, stark views across to Forbidden and Torment, the wicked snowed-up knife edge section to the rap into the gash, the canyon-like gash itself, the snow arete, the funky looking crevasse bridge (Colin being the lightest you understand, and therefore the first), the steep GODDAMN DEEP wallowing, the perfect camp with clearing skies and views of only the peak tops above the clouds, the first taste of ramen since a less than successful Alaska trip in '92, the next morning Colin leading a rather heady section to the summit (30 meters of steep looseness with the everpresent 12 to 18" of unbonded snow and zero gear), the reappearence of the storm, the summit hand shake and smiles, the daunting descent ahead, the spectacular ridge traverse to the West Peak, the surprisingly looooong ridge traverse to the West Peak, the mindful pitch out of one of several "ackward notches", the camp perched on the ridge crest, the spilled pot of water in the tent (Mark), the bottomless 10-foot diameter mistery hole on the way, the brief appearance of a spectre, the 1-1/2 days it took to get from the camp below the main summit to the W summit, the blinding wind and snow, the incredible aretes and ravines everywhere, the rime, the W summit finally, the mindfuck routefinding with bad visiblility, the little slab avos we kept setting off that tug surprisingly hard on the torso of a wet tired human, the solid partner, the 600' we didn't really have to climb back up and then down, the 3-1/2' deep slab that cleared the way for a "safe" descent down to timberline, the heartbreaking wallowing, the wetness, the 900' wallow up out of the western valley, the 3' slab crown we caused but didn't ride, the dark, the guesswork on the way down, the compass, the wettest camp I've ever experienced (not necessarily Mark's best idea), the sensation of hypothermia, the fuel running out, the light, the car.

 

Then there was the repetitive pattern of this post, sorry.

 

Not the biggest deal in the world, but we're pretty stoked!

 

Cheers,

Mark

Edited by Marko

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Way to go, guys!

 

Marko - don't feel bad about spilling the pot. My friend Bill tells a story of dropping the pot on the first winter ascent. He says he was scooping snow outside the tent and only momentarily lost his concentration when hit in the face by a gust of snow or something. It took a minute or two before he realized how serious it was, and then he told Steve that they might have to abandon the climb because they'd now have no way to produce water. But they figured out that if they held their plastic cup over the stove at just the right distance they could melt snow without melting the plastic. They did this for the next three or four days. Needless to say, their ramen or whatever they had came out sub-optimal.

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Nice Work! I'd definitely be interested in reading a longer TR if either of you guys feels like putting the effort into it.

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Excellent job!

 

How much weight would you estimate you were each carrying?

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I really didn't think that the SW was a good descent route, and I would only reccomend it if your route climbs directly to the West Peak in the first place (West side route, and 1949 North face route, I believe).

 

Yeah, I read about Bill Pilling dropping the pot in his 1985 AAJ report. He also spent the evening vomiting... Then there's the fact that they (he and Steve Mascioli) also made the first winter ascent of NE Buttress Goode - the same month!

 

I think it's called "spectre of the broken," or something like that. - When your shadow is projected onto clouds below, surounded by a circular rainbow.

 

I think I used 5 or 6 GU's - PB&J's are just much more cost effective. I'm no good at estimating pack weight, but while we were climbing we were carrying a lightweight tent, lightweight stove, fuel, food, pad each, sleeping bag each, parka each, extra socks and gloves each, and not much more.

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Gentlemen, I'm simultaneously impressed, inspired and horrified! What possessed you two to climb that bitch-kitty of a hill in those conditions? Since you did make it out in one piece, I will spare you the responsibility lecture and congratulate you both on your manly adventure.

 

BTW, anybody bring a digital camera? 'Twould be nice to see some snaps posted. I'm heading down to the U.W. rock this afternoon in case you've got some printed photos you'd like to share ('bout 1 or 2 pm).

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Where do you figure the avalanche debris that buried your skis came out of? Beckey mentions that the lower part of the buttress is protected from rockfall by its own protrusion or something like that, I'm wondering whether your skis got gradually buried in spindrift or whether something big came down at the base of the rib.

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Yeah, sorry, I guess what I'm fishing for is whether there was some evil-looking big pieces of debris down there that would indicates solid slides that might have broken backs or swept a rope team away. I tend to underestimate the probability/danger of small slides, I'm trying to understand those better.

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Most of the avalanche debris had come out of the C-J Couloir, although some of it had obviously come off the route. Depending on exactly where you go, the first 2-5 pitches of the route will have avalanche danger (from a snow bowl a little ways up), but after that, it is very minimal.

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Maybe you should get a sponsor to cover that shit bigdrink.gif I bet you might be able to make some "extreme" climber group.? I aint going in there any time before May!

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I did some variation of the SW descent in the summer and it wasn't half bad. We didn't actually traverse all the way to the West Summit, but got impatient and went down some promising looking gully, which would not be such a great choice in the winter. I remember it as mostly 3rd & 4th class, with a pitch or two of 5th class downclimbing to get to the snow, then the long traverse around shoulders & down that steeeeep timber to the road. Something about the C-J couloir gives me the heebee jeebies when comtemplating descending it, and that long amble back to Cascade Pass appears tedious.

 

Congrats on the ascent, and in less than optimal conditions to boot. I share Pope's array of reactions. Bravo!

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