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MtnHigh

[TR] Big Four- Spindrift Coulior 2/18/2006

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Climb: Big Four-Spindrift Coulior

 

Date of Climb: 2/18/2006

 

Trip Report:

 

The climb

We left Portland late Friday evening and started the climb as soon as we arrived at the gated road early Saturday morning. The gate is ~1 1/2 miles from the trailhead. Starlit skies, no wind and frigid temps. Perfect weather.

 

Happy Bill

801Happy_Bill.JPG

 

Getting through the lower cliff band is not technical. Stay to the far right. Just some steep treed terrain. Once you gain the lower basin it's a long rising left traverse on rock hard snow. Easy going.

 

The lower third of the route was excellent hard snow bisected by short patches of deep sugar. There is one pitch of WI3 followed by 400' of perfect 50-60 degree neve'. This puts you at what the book claims to be the crux.

 

Lower Third of the route

801Lower_Third2.JPG

 

The crux pitch in the middle of the route is a ~100' of 70-90 degree semi-rotten ice. WI4 Xish. Bill place two screws within a foot of each other 40' feet from the belay, the only pro on the pitch. He banged in an iffy pin and a worthless picket 180' from the belay for the anchor. This turned out to be the typical anchor on the route.

 

Following the crux is a long section of deep 40-50 degree sugar. We had enough of the deep sugar crap so ~800 from the top we decided to leave the normal Spindrift route and try a line to the right. After a couple of sketchy leads, one WI5X we knew that daylight was soon to pass. Lucky we found a sheltered bivvy, a small cave created by an over hanging rock with a bush draping over it.

 

The night was 12 hours of sleepless shivering. The cave was cramped, but there was enough room for one person to stand erect, the other hunched and the bottom was big enough for both of us to lay down with our legs sharing the middle. Laying down only made us colder, so we spent most of the night standing, stamping our feet and exercising our ankles to ward off frozen digits. Bill had a pound of horsecock, a block of sharp cheddar and 5 smokes. They made the night bearable. The night in the cave was our second night of no sleep.

 

The Cave

801The_Cave2.JPG

801The_Cave3.JPG

801The_Cave_Door.JPG

801The_Cave_Rap_Out.JPG

 

The next morning we rapped back down to the Spindrift couloir and finished the proper route. The upper 1/4 of the route offered 400' of 50-60 degree perfect stick neve' which gave way to 400' of shit sugar. The final pitch to get over the corniced ridge was a sphincter clenching xperience. We brought a shovel head to dig our way through it, but we picked out a weakness that had the least amount of over-hanging snow.

 

Eric's pic of the top pitch

2680nearingtop.jpg

 

A team (John and Eric) was on our tails near the top. They caught up to us half way down the NW ridge. They used our raps catching us; they set the raps lower down. The four of us finished the descent together. Thanks much for sharing the raps and the navigation help.

 

The Big Fuss on Big Four

I underestimated route. I left instructions with my grandparents that we would call them by noon on Sunday letting them know that we were off the mountain. They called the Snohomish County sheriff's office right at noon.

The Sheriff called the Rangers. The Sheriff copper flew over us around 3pm as we were descending the NW ridge. At the time we were rapping in a treed area. The chopper came back 30 minutes later when we were in an open area. They lowered a radio to us. We let them know that all was OK and I asked them to call my family back with word.

 

Waiting for us near the ice caves with a pit fire were the Search and Rescue team. We walked out the trail together. To top off our adventure just a 1/4 mile from the trailhead I slipped on the icy trail. I twisted my ankle. I could not put weight on it. The S&R team hauled my sorry ass to the car. Many thanks.

 

Agian, many thanks to the Search and Rescue folks who waited for us and the Snohomish Sheriff for the chopper check in.

 

The Final Chapter

It was now 10pm Sunday, Bill and I had been awake for 64 continuous hours. While driving to Granite Falls I noticed that Bill was driving 20 mph. I said to him, 'hey what's up man?' He was zombied out behind the wheel. I convinced him that it would be safer for me to drive into Everett with a sprained right ankle than him sleeping.

 

At the motel room I was the first to pull off the boots. I had 6 black toes. Bill's toes were black as well. Two days later my toes turned red. This is good. I'll save mine. Bill's are another story. His big toes are still black four days later.

 

Gear Notes:

Pickets, screws, and tools

 

Approach Notes:

The road is gated 1-1.5 miles from the trailhead.

Edited by MtnHigh

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I was cheering for you guys when I heard you were OK and completing the descent under your own power. Hearing about Bill's toes, I'm worried. I hope he recovers!

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fahq pete! an all around interesting winter for you this one's been! glad your bts'n'peces escaped - hope bill's alright - that pic of him in the cave is classic misery!

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Wow, what a trip...

We were in the area on Sunday, below the Dry Creek route when we saw the chopper fly in... it was kind of ominous as it hovered overhead (we tried to hide in some trees so it wouldn't mistakenly spot us). We ran into some sheriff-types at the ice caves area and were glad to hear no one was hurt at that time.

I really hope things go well with your partner's toes.

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Wow, what a trip...

We were in the area on Sunday, below the Dry Creek route when we saw the chopper fly in... it was kind of ominous as it hovered overhead (we tried to hide in some trees so it wouldn't mistakenly spot us). We ran into some sheriff-types at the ice caves area and were glad to hear no one was hurt at that time.

I really hope things go well with your partner's toes.

 

Actually I called in a chopper on you guys too. Good thing you hid. haha hahaha.gif

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Damn you guys. I glad you are both ok, too bad about the toes though. I can't believe you kept at it the next day after what must have been a damn cold night out on the mountain.

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So did the other team climb all night or something? How else did they catch up with you?

 

Driving story is funny. I had a similar experience after doing a long route in the Enchantments and being awake for a long time. Driving back over the pass I hallucinated / dreamt that my partner who was driving had turned out the car lights and was drifting into the ditch at 60 mph. I woke up and started shaking him and yelling. He had been driving fine and was a bit startled at my behavior. I remember the radio at the time was playing the whole audio from Blade Runner. Kind of eery.

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This Winter has been tough on me. Broken left leg in Dec, chronic rotator cuff issues, frostbite and an ankle sprain in Feb. I'm getting to old for this shit.

 

Eric and John started the climb Saturday around 2am. Bill and I exited the bivvy cave Sunday around 6:30am. Hence, the 4 of us converged near the top.

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Glad you guys are doing okay! Hey Bill, how's the toes????? I hope you get to keep them! Way to go, still topping out after a miserable night, good work!

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way to stick with the climb...best wishes on your toes Bill. nice pics, heck of a story.

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I just got back from the doctor. My toes will take some time to heal, but everything's going to be alright and I won't need your jarred toe dude. Thanks for the concern everyone! I enjoyed the report Pete, nicely done. Those cave pics really bring back the suffering...

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Nice work Pete. Hows this going to affect your trip in April?

Instead of AK we might boat down to Columbia or Brazil to load up on provisions. Or I might use the travel money as entry fees into a Vegas poker tournament. Or I'll throw a party at my house and get everyone drunk. So many options.

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Instead of AK we might boat down to Columbia or Brazil to load up on provisions.

considering becoming a drug lord there don pete?

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Nice work Pete. Hows this going to affect your trip in April?

Instead of AK we might boat down to Columbia or Brazil to load up on provisions. Or I might use the travel money as entry fees into a Vegas poker tournament. Or I'll throw a party at my house and get everyone drunk. So many options.

 

I kinda like the idea of you going down to Colombia and THEN having a party.

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Hey guys, looks like a great climb, been eyeing it for a while now.

I was wondering, how well do you guys think using 30meter twin ropes would work for the route? Its all I got right now

 

 

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