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OlegV

[TR] Rainier- Nisqually Cleaver 5/15/2006

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Climb: Rainier-Nisqually Cleaver

 

Date of Climb: 5/15/2006

 

Trip Report:

A friend of mine Rob and myself decided to climb the legendary Nisqually Ice Cliff. The route looked somewhat clear-cut from the picture, but as we later discover in action, many substantial irregularities were not noticeable from the base camp.

6323Nisqually_route-med.jpg

We left the Paradise at 10 am on Sunday wishing for much colder weather. We cut across the sun-baked Muir snowfield and dug out a nice flat platform at the base of the Cowitz cleaver at 9800 ft.

6323Nisqually_camp-med.jpg

We spent the rest of the day staring at the steep slopes of the Nisqually Ice Fall, and debating whether we’ll be hit by falling ice or rock in the temperatures above freezing. The Nisqually was peaceful for the time being. We left the camp at 3 am in hardly freezing conditions under full moon and low wind. The broad field below the Nisqually Cliffs, as expected, is a war zone evident by a broad trail of fallen ice and rock. Nothing fell when we passed the debris. Leading the first pitch at the lower bergshrund, I heard the sound of falling water and thought “Holly molly, our route is melting away!” Soon our progress was interrupted by a spicy vertical step formed by the bergshrund.

 

The entrance to the lower couloir represents a low-angle enjoyable climbing with lots of opportunities for the leg rest.

6323Nisqually_low-med.jpg

Although rock fall did happen at the sunrise, and Rob once narrowly escaped a sizable brick, there is plenty of room under the overhanging cliffs of Nisqually Cleaver for the daydreaming.

 

After passing the first band of the ice cliffs without problem, we looked right in the direction of the book-described ice shelf and discovered a jumble of crevasses and bulging cliffs. What looked like a smooth shelf from the ground was an amazing optical illusion.

6323Nisqually_shrund-med.jpg

6323Nisqually_icecliff-med.jpg

We vote for the upward climbing on the left of the second band of the ice cliffs. Rob leads the second, steep couloir separating the cleaver and the icecliffs. At the same time, I fully enjoy unsafe belay just below the hanging icecliff.

6323Nisqually_uppercliff-med.jpg

6323Nisqually_icecliff1-med.jpg

We passed the ice cliffs thinking: “That’s the end of the crux. From here, if we cut right, we’ll eventually end up on the broad smooth slope leading to the summit”. Ha! Not at all, crevasses are everywhere, thanks to the mighty river of the Nisqually Icefall. Many times we had to navigate between and across the soft snow bridges of the vomitingly deep and wide crevasses.

6323Nisqually_12_5K-med.jpg6323Nisqually_view-med.jpg

The never-ending change in horizons and new obstacles was quite enjoyable. Rob once had to lead a frozen hill of ice with a single ice screw! I love alpine climbing for its marginal safety and overoptimistic attitude of people who does it.

 

If you are tired reading my translation, at 13.5K we finally spotted two figures coming down the DC. We quickly found the path and spent the next hour or so in the normal for this stage of climbing, zombie-like state, and started our slog up the DC to the summit. The DC descent was less than enjoyable and frankly boring. Sunburned and pretty tired, we got to our tent in the early afternoon. We looked at the line we just climbed, with the new eyes and agreed that it was amazingly entertaining adventure.

 

 

 

Gear Notes:

2 tools

2 pickets

30 m rope

4 ice screws (used once)

10 lb sun screen

 

Approach Notes:

Muir

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Nice TR! Sounds like a cool adventure. Glad you guys were able to go do it.

 

-r

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if you climbed it solo in the winter and you were a girl...well...that would be news! LOL...seriously, great work Oleg and crew!

rockband.giffruit.gif

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if you climbed it solo in the winter and you were a girl...

 

Pandora again... cry.gif

we were continuously looking for her footprints - they all gone, of cause. Actually, the way this route is shaped right now, would make any solo a bad idea. It is not technically difficult, but heavily crevassed - something special about the upper Nisqually. Did she solo it all the way? We found the upper Nisqually requires more concentration than the cleaver. Anyway, it's a beautiful and fairly relaxing line, apart from high objective danger and route navigation. This girls has balls. confused.gif

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She is one of the strongest girl climbers..

 

agree; favorable strength/weight ratio plus motivation thumbs_up.gif

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Nice job guys. Nisqually Cleaver is a seldom climbed route. You may have a second ascent. I'm not certain, but perhaps Gator would chime in.

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Nice job guys. Nisqually Cleaver is a seldom climbed route. You may have a second ascent. I'm not certain, but perhaps Gator would chime in.

Thanks! The line we climbed, I think, is an undescribed variation of the Nisqually cleaver, because we never set our feet on the ice cliff traverse and continued to climb up along the right slope of Nisqually Cleaver. Besides, we avoided the top of the Gibs Rock and traversed across to meet the DC at 13500 feet.

6323Nisqually_route.jpg

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Here is some better images of the route:

Approaching lower ice cliffs

6323Nisqually_low.jpg

 

Crossing the upper shrund:

6323Nisqually_shrund.jpg

 

Climbing the cleaver:

6323Nisqually_uppercliff.jpg

6323Nisqually_icecliff1.jpg

 

Climbing the upper part of Nisqually Ice Fall

6323Nisqually_12_5K.jpg

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Did Pandora have photos -- summit photos or any others?

 

Since you asked, Kit, I uploaded a few snapshots especially for you.

 

Entering Nisqually Basin:

 

5292NisquallyIC-med.jpg

 

Looking down the steepest section, where I was glad to have two tools:

 

5292NIC2-med.jpg

 

And the lonely crater rim:

 

5292NIC3-med.jpg

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Pandora, you did a great job up there! I salute your guts crossing Nisqually crevasses. I imagine they were filled in when you did the cliff. We found lots of open holes and the ice shelf looked kinda broken.

Oleg

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Nice job on this--looks like a beautiful route in a stunning setting. One question, though:

 

According to the Beckey book, it looks to me like the Nisqually Cleaver route would go more like this (green line):

1066323Nisqually_route2.jpg

 

Did any of the recent parties climb this line? If not, and according to the topos presented, it seems to me that these routes would more properly be considered variations of the Nisqually Ice Cliff. Or am I missing something? Is the Beckey guide misleading?

Edited by dbconlin

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I think you're right DB. Becky shows it as a variation to Nisqually Ice Cliff (pointing out Nisqually Cleaver as a landmark). Gauthier's book labels it as Nisqually Cleaver (Rte 5).

 

Either way, you guys did it in perfect style Oleg. thumbs_up.gifbigdrink.gif

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Thanks, Couloir.

We chose not to do the 'standard' cleaver because of the substantial rock fall. My partner was nearly hit by a big rock. He dogged it, and the rock actually scratched his boot. The temperatures stayed way above freezing even during the night.

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