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Cpt.Caveman

Johannesburg Mtn

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Impressive. Really. That trip is up there with all the other hardcore stuff that has ever been done in the Cascades. Especially with all the weather conditions we had recently. Just thinking of what you did scares me.

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Thanks Lambone, I guess the trip was still pretty fresh in my mind at the time!

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I think Beckey mentions the 1949 N. Face route as a potential descent. What are your (or anyone's) thoughts on that as a potential descent?

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I don't know about that one, Greg. Does it take the glaciated trough that is W of the rib W of the NE Buttress? It may be less technical than descending the NE Buttress would be, but if it is where I am imagining it to be, I believe it is exposed to lots of falling seracs.

 

I believe that the W. descent is not terribly difficult in the Summer, when there is not snow along the crest, but I am not surprised that Colin and Marko found it rather challenging last week!

 

When I climbed the route, in late season, I descended the south face. I scrambled all the way down it and although I ended up bivyying before I got off of it, I had started down from the summit around sunset and the descent took less than two hours total time to reach the alp slope below the S. Face (a long where from anywhere but at least it was terra relatively firma).

 

I think the moral of the story is that there is no easy way off JoBerg.

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Howdy Pope,

 

Well, if there's any reason to be impressed (which I deny) it's from our perseverence, not any alleged skill required. There was some very satisfying climbing but nothing real technical.

 

Inspiration? That was our first choice if conditions were safer!

 

As far as being horrified, I hear you. Actually the route up was quite safe except for the first several hundred feet which we were able to get up pretty fast, and the last ropelength to our camp below the summit. The one place we were very lucky, I mean very lucky, was the last 1500' down to the valley southwest of the West Peak: A good size slab avo had cleared the big gully down to turf. If that hadn't happened we would have had to do a pantload of rappelling down the west ridge proper.

 

And the reason we chose J-Berg over Rockies ice climbing was because I've been having elbow tendon problems and didn't want to do any pullups...

 

We took 2 rolls of slides but there's only a couple good ones. Can you scan slides and get meaningful pictures?

 

Cheers,

Mark

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I also mostly shoot slides. I've had Dwayner scan a few and they looked pretty nice. You can see a few pop up on the home page now and then (Leavenworth area photos by Eric Mohler and Scotty Hopkins); they're certainly good enough for posting/e-mailing to your buddies or whatever. I would bet Kinkos has a slide scanner if you wanted to experiment.

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Marko asked:

We took 2 rolls of slides but there's only a couple good ones. Can you scan slides and get meaningful pictures?

 

I've gotta check on my other machine, but I'm pretty sure I bookmarked a webpage with some good instructions on how to scan slides using a garden variety flat bed scanner, as opposed to a spendier slide scanner. Stay tuned for futher information...

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The kinko's near my office used to have a slide adapter for their scanner, but they no longer do. I have recently bought a flat-bed scanner that came with a slide adapter, but I have yet to get it to work. I'll have to go home during business hours to call the help line when there is somebody to answer.

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It would cost you a little cash and a little loss in quality (depending on the establishment's scanner quality) if you ask to get the shots scanned to CD-ROM at the time they develop the film. Places like Kit's do this. I'm pretty sure it costs less than $10. If time is money, that's money saved. Why do all that work of scanning yourself. Let someone else do it. Then again, if you only have a few good shots, probably not worth doing the CD-ROM thing.

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i saw some of the slides last night and damn....hats off to mark and colin.......the only way to sum them up is....

 

BADASS

 

Aidan

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yeah right! I was up there and didn't see any footprints! I demand proof! You guys tricked me last time on the n. ridge of Stuart, it wont happen again! conditions were so bad even I wouldn't have been able to climb that route! you bastards!

 

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Ah hah! You finally saw through our thinly veiled charade. We thought Stuart was pretty good but wily ol' Bob picked up on it right away. For this trip we were actually warming bar stools in western Saskatchewan. We bought our photos at a truck stop east of Calgary.

 

Shit, foiled again!

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Way to go Colin and Mark. That felt like a big route in July when I did it with Jim and Bob; doing it now with that much loose snow and snow falling seems over the top. Glad you didn't come down the CJ Couloir. That was a scary place on a sunny day in July; can't imagine it now. Colin: didn't you do it this summer in a day? I'm thinking you need to blow off college and move on to bigger ranges. But don't tell your mom I said this.

 

Cheers,

 

John Sharp

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ProLab (Fremont), among others, will put any number of your slides on a CD at a fairly high resolution (much better than what you get along with cheap slide processing services; you can make good quality 8 x 10 glossies from these "Kodak" CD'S) for not too much bread. Seright (whatever it's now called) next to Glazer's camera in Denny Regrade will do high resolution drum scans and print you beautiful poster sized blow ups from your slides if you give them enough money. hahaha.gif

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Thanks! While they're not technically great exposures, they really capture the feel of things. I gotta go put my coat on. bigdrink.gif Great adventure you two.

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I've gotta check on my other machine, but I'm pretty sure I bookmarked a webpage with some good instructions on how to scan slides using a garden variety flat bed scanner, as opposed to a spendier slide scanner. Stay tuned for futher information...

 

Off thread topic here, sorry. I have seen that site too, and even played around with some of the tecniques. They kinda work. I found it a lot of work to get not very good results. Kinda impressionistic.

 

Most large photo places have slide scanners these days. You can get impressive results from a real slide scanner... Galen Rowell used to scan some of his work before blowing it up to like 4'x6' or whatever.

 

The crux is that the original is so small the scanner needs super high resolution to do a good job.

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That's one memorable shot of the Sill glacier from below in the depth of winter. I am in agreement that this sort of epic equals any other N. Cascade exploits I've heard before.

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Always trying to incorporate climbing into my schoolwork, I finally wrote up a full-lenth TR of this J'Berg climb for my Creative Writing class. I thought that some of you might find it interesting, and I also wouldn't mind some feedback on the writing. The writing is currently pretty dry, particularly because this is the first draft. The difficutly, of course, is in making the reading at all interesting to a non-climber. Anyways, lemme know what you guys think:

 

------------------

 

Mark's Peugeot rattles up the pot-holed and rutted Cascade River Road, and I put on my boots with the motivational aid of a Tool tape blaring from the car's speakers. As the road gains elevation, the rain slowly turns to sleet, and finally to snow. It's difficult to head out on a serious winter climb in dumping snow, particularly when the forecast for the coming week calls for nothing but more dumping snow. But alas, I'm on winter break, and Mark asked for this time off from work a long time ago; we'll use the time we've got.

 

The Peugeot barely makes it through two miles of ruts in the snow, and then we park where the Park Service has gated the road for the winter, still a couple miles from the normal trailhead. We take our time to sort out gear and pack up. We decide on 4 and a half days of food and fuel, a lightweight rack of pins, nuts, tricams, and screws, and a 8 mm rope that we'll use as a single. We hide our duffel bags in the bushes in case the car gets broken into, stash the key under a rock, and start skiing up the road.

 

In a few hours we ski up the remainder of the road, and the strenuous trail-breaking offers a taste of what's to come. The solstice was only a week or so ago, and we retire to the tent at a very early hour. We have freeze-dried dinners for the rest of the climb, but decadently brought canned soup for our first night. The alarm wakes us early the next morning, and we ski the short remaining distance to the base of Mt. Johannesberg's Northeast Buttress, where we stash our skis, poles and skins under a rock outcrop.

The Northeast Buttress has been climbed in winter once before, by Bill Pilling and Steve Mascioli in February, 1984. The standard descent route, and the one they took, is down the East Ridge to the Cascade-Johannesberg col, and then down the Cascade-Johannesberg couloir. In the current conditions however, descending the Cascade-Johannesberg couloir would be suicidal, and our descent plan is to traverse to the West Peak and then descend the long West Ridge.

 

We put on our crampons, harnesses, and helmets, but leave the rope and rack in our packs as we start up the climb. We manage about three pitch-lengths of simul-soloing good alpine ice, and then break out the rope where the ice gets thin and rotten. Another couple pitches of low-angle but rotten ice leads us to a slightly-overhanging rock step about 25 feet high. After a few unsuccessful attempts to drytool up the steep rock, Mark pieces the crux together by stemming between the rock and a nearby dead snag. He sets a belay, hauls up his pack, and then I follow with mine on. At the belay we have a quick snack and then I head out to begin the true difficulty of the climb - wallowing. I break trail up a gully and then across a small bowl, sinking into my waist the entire way. With every step I have to first use my knee to clear a small area in front of me, and then raise my foot as high as I can to bring it forward. The wallowing is extremely tiring, and it also leaves me with many crampon gashes in my gaiters and pants.

 

After about 200 meters we finally reach more technical ground, which, contrary to normal, will allow us to move faster in these deep-snow conditions. About five pitches of moderate mixed climbing, requiring a lot of gorilla imitation , lead us up to the crest of the buttress as it begins to get dark. We take a few hits of GU, put on our headlamps, and suffer through another half hour of wallowing before finding a level section of ridgecrest to pitch our tiny tent. There is a steep drop on either side, but the platform we stomp out is large enough that we feel safe to sleep unroped. We crawl inside and begin melting snow on our little canister stove. It requires concentration to keep the stove upright on the uneven foam pads, and every time we open the door the snow blows inside the tent. Eventually we finish our cooking duties, and immediately sack out.

 

The alarm lures me out of my half-asleep state, and I grope in the dark for my headlamp. I turn it on and am shocked to find that our tent has half the volume that it did last night. The walls are bowed in with so much snow that Mark and I have a difficult time sitting up at the same time. However, this isn't the usual powder snow that has accumulated up around the tent; the walls of the tent feel rock hard, and we aren't able to shake off any snow. Mark volunteers to do the excavation, and I scrunch up in one end of the tent so that he has enough room to put on his boots. Then entire door is covered in snow, and the only way that Mark can get out is to shovel snow inside the tent. Once Mark is outside in the storm I have enough room to pull the plastic sheet out of my backpack, and I hand it out to him to use as a shovel. The wind is very strong, and we melted enough water last night, so we decide to forgo breakfast. While Mark is outside excavating I put on my boots and all my clothing. I decide to even put on my harness and helmet in the tent, realizing that they will take twice as long to put on outside with gloves on. The gloves are particularly excruciating; soaked from yesterday, and frozen stiff from spending the night on the floor of the tent.

 

With goggles on I unzip the tent door, and stumble out onto the ridgecrest. Conditions aren't exactly rosy, with dumping snow, strong winds, and very little visibility. Nonetheless, we don't need to converse to know that we both want to keep going up, and I strap on my crampons and tie in as Mark collapses the tent poles. As he stuffs the frozen mass of goretex into his pack I begin wallowing up the ridge. The steel heads of my ice tools instantly suck the warmth out of my hands, and they are aching as I plunge the tools into the snow. Last night's strong winds were somewhat beneficial, because some of the deep snow has blown away. Nonetheless, there is still plenty of wallowing to be had, and the next 300 meters of 4th class is very tiring and time-consuming.

 

The next 50 meters provides the second crux of the route: a very narrow section of ridgecrest that is easy climbing in summer, but currently is buried by three feet of snow. I head out slowly, using my tools to painstakingly clear the blobs of snow off the ridge, and scratching my crampons across the rock underneath. A half-driven knifeblade coaxes me on to where the narrow ridgecrest meets a steeper buttress of rock, and I set a belay. As Mark follows the clouds lift enough that for the first time on the climb we can see the opposite side of the valley, and I snap a couple pictures. Once Mark reaches the belay we grab a bit to eat and drink, and then rappel down and to the right, into a snow gully that will provide passage through the steep rock buttress. Not surprisingly, the gully is full of deep, tiring snow, but it isn't long before we regain the ridgecrest above, and take another break. From here a long snow arête and a small pocket glacier will lead us to a nice camp right below the summit.

 

The day's technical climbing is over, but the work is just beginning. The snow is waist deep, and we slowly inch our way up the arête, taking turns paving the way. Night falls as we reach the pocket glacier, so we break out our headlamps and press on. After an hour of slogging in the dark we are relieved to finally crest over the edge of the glacier to a luxuriously flat campsite. We quickly stomp out a platform, pitch the tent, and crawl inside. The day was extremely tiring, and the tasks of cooking are subsequently extremely difficult. The stove roars from the center of the tent, but our legs and backs beg us to lie down and it isn't long before the stove is knocked over and precious water spills across the sleeping pads. Once was bad - five minutes later, after knocking over the stove a second time, we know that it's time to go to sleep. After such a tiring day we decide not to set the alarm.

 

We wake up at a leisurely pace the next morning, and are delighted to find that the sun still exists. Despite lingering clouds it is a beautiful day, and our excitement for the climb is rekindled. We pack up camp, and climb the last couple of moderate mixed pitches to the summit. We grin for a couple of photos, and then immediately begin downclimbing the West ridge. The climbing is generally moderate, but steep enough to keep a couple of pieces between us, particularly because of the small slab avalanches that we keep setting off. We traverse on the south side of the ridge for a long ways, and enjoy the sunshine. The West ridge seems to go on forever, and we are only about half way to the West summit when it begins to get dark. Mark leads one last steep pitch as it gets dark, and we realize that his belay will be the best spot to pitch the tent. There's enough space to kick a little platform out of the snow, but we'll be staying tied in tonight. We go through our cooking chores, and crawl in our bags, slightly aware that it is New Year's Eve. My 30° F down bag was warm enough the first few nights, but after four days of wet Cascades weather it has turned into a chilly, soggy mess.

 

I've had more pleasant sleep before, and I wake up stiff from shivering. Yesterday's nice weather has been replaced by dumping snow once again. As we are cooking up some morning bloatmeal we realize that my sleeping bag is out of loft, and the food and fuel is rapidly dwindling. Determined not to spend another night out, we pack up and I head out while it is still dark. The day starts out by traversing a steep snowslope on the North side of the ridge; it is technically easy, but I'm glad to be roped up with each slab avalanche that I set off. I regain the crest of the ridge, and after a couple pitches of moderate mixed climbing we have finally reached the West Peak. It is an important milestone, but we are quick to head out, knowing that we are still a long ways from off this mountain.

 

Pitch after pitch of 5th class ridgecrest merely brings more of the same. We make a rappel-pendulum to avoid a difficult step, and continue blindly West. As I lead a particularly narrow section of ridgecrest I tear off my goggles which have become completely iced up, and continue bare-eyed. With every movement I make, the rime and snow that I knock off gets instantly blown into a frozen mask on my face. The wind is from the North, and I am finally able to make progress by keeping my windward (right) eye closed. A little ways further I set a belay and somberly bring in Mark, wondering just how fucked we are. Mark heads out traversing the South side of the ridge, and when the rope runs out I follow behind.

 

After a few pitch lengths our situation finally changes for the better; the steep narrow ridgecrest changes to a broad 3rd class slope. Never before have I been so relieved to find myself on endless 3rd class in the middle of a storm. We stop for some GU, and our change of fate is even enough to even make us smile a bit. After a half hour of confusion over which way to descend, we start down a SW facing gully, that, to our delight, has already been swept by an avalanche. Downclimbing the gully goes quickly, and we are off the mountain at last. However, my sleeping bag is still soaking wet, our food and fuel are still almost gone, and we still have a long ways to get to the car. We eat a quick snack, unrope, and begin trudging through the deep snow.

 

The SW gully deposited us in a basin on the SW side of the mountain, and to get to the car we still need to climb up about 600 ft., cross over the lower part of the W ridge, and then descend about 4,000 of steep forest. Gaining the W ridge is slow going through the waist-deep snow, and we soak ourselves in sweat. My thoughts condense to the 20 ft. glow of my headlamp in front of me, and the falling snowflakes illuminated by it. Finally we reach the ridgecrest, and wander around looking for the best way down the North side. Right before heading down I suggest we look at the compass; and we are saved from accidently heading down the South side of the ridge, where we just came up. We reorient ourselves and begin descending the steep forest to the North.

 

We wade endlessly down through the deep, wet snow, occasionally veering to the left or right to avoid cliffbands. I am extremely tired, but the thought of spending another night out is scary, and we push on. We lose about 2,000 ft. of elevation, and the falling snow turns to sleet as Mark's headlamp batteries die. Shit. We press on with one headlamp for a ways, but slowly the realization sets in that we really are going to have to spend another night out.

 

Finally we surrender to stomp out a tent platform, and drag our sopping bodies inside. It is about 33° F and sleeting - warm enough so that everything is soaking wet, but cold enough that being wet is dangerous. It is heartbreaking to unstuff the sopping sack of feather-clumps that used to be my sleeping bag, and it is difficult to decide if I will be warmer outside of it. We nibble on the little bit of remaining food, and produce two liters of lukewarm water to put in our sleeping bags as we try to fall asleep. I manage about 45 minutes of half-sleep, but I am soon too cold for lying still to be an option. Never before has hypothermia seemed so real of a threat. We re-light the stove and huddle over it as we re-warm the water bottles. Another 45 minutes pass before we need to light the stove again. This cycle continues until about 3 am, when the last bit of fuel is used up. I spend the remainder of the night shivering and waiting in agony for the morning to come.

 

When the sky finally becomes light we painfully put on our boots, pack up, and split the last Powerbar before heading out. The snowpack slowly becomes thinner, and after losing another 1,000 ft. it is mainly a battle against the brush and fallen logs. Eventually we emerge from a thicket of bushes, and find ourselves weary and happy on the Cascade River Road, miraculously only a few hundred feet from the ole' Peugeot. Johannesberg has certainly put up quite a fight over the past five and a half days - Quite a different experience from the 14 hour daytrip up the same route back in August. Conditions are everything...

 

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