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Alpine_Tom

[TR] Mixup- East Face 7/22/2006

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Climb: Mixup-East Face

 

Date of Climb: 7/22/2006

 

Trip Report:

Alex Mineev and I decided on this as a compromise destination. Jeff Smoot calls it an unappreciated classic, and Fred B. says it's one of the best one-day climbs from Cascade Pass. Myself, I don't think I'd ever heard of it.

We left Pugetopolis at 4:30 AM, air condition running because it was still so warm.

After stopping to ooh and ah over Johannesberg, we hit the trail right around 8:00. The Cascade Pass trail is long, smooth, and uninteresting, aside from the views of mountains through the trees, and we were constantly assaulted by bugs. It's a bumper crop this year.

At the pass we stopped for breakfast, enjoying the breeze which kept the bugs down, and picking out mountains in the fabulous panorama. We misidentified Magic as Mixup (which is actually hidden from the pass) and after a bit, headed off to the right.

The trail is surprisingly easy to follow and well established. Partly because stuff grows slowly up there, partly because mountain goats use it, and partly because it's part of the Ptarmigan ptraverse (later in the day, we saw a party of four heading up and over Cache Col.)

The approach went smoothly, right up until we got to 'Gunsite Notch' where the left side approach was blocked by a fearsome moat, and the right side was almost as difficult to pass, on a steep snowbridge. We belayed this, which added a good half hour to the climb (both up, and back.) It may have been the crux of the climb, getting over that and getting up the sloppy rock-and-dirt slope above it.

The other side (south) of the ridge is a gorgeous 'Sound of Music' view of grass, wildflowers and the splendid 'Central Cascade glacier.' We traversed over the back side of the gendarme, following a bit of a trail part of the way (this peak is apparently on the Mountaineers syllabus) before arriving at the gap.

The route description recommends descending about 100 feet to the left and climbing from there, but Alex wanted to climb the face here at the gap. It's probably 5.5 or so, and he got up it with no problem. I came after, made a stupid move, and fell on my ass from 8' into the dirt, uninjured, and scrambled up after him.

After this pitch, you go up 3rd-class ground for a ways. We contrived more challenging variations, but the blackish gneiss is pretty crappy and crumbly, and you have to assume every hold and stance is iffy. At this point, I was wondering if Smoot and Beckey had been smoking the same bowl.

But then, suddenly, the rock changed from the crappy , crumbly black stuff to remarkable white, granite-looking stuff, much more firm and a lot of fun to ascend. It's like stairsteps, really (in fact, on the desent, Alex pointed out a concave area that looked like an ancient greek theater, the steps were so regular and neat.)

Instead of following the route description, which sends you up to the right skyline (the n ridge?) we decided to go straight up the east face. It got progressively steeper, but the rock was just as good as ever. Finally we felt the need to rope back up, and half a rope-length (again, maybe 5.5-ish climbing) got us to the summit (after a kind of fearsome step-across.)

The summit book was put up there in 1992, and was only about half filled. According to it, we were the third party of the year.

 

It was a gorgeous summit, splendid views every direction.

 

The descent was a matter of 3 rapels, some more downclimbing, 3 more rapels to the notch (since it's a Mountie destination, every rap station had half a dozen slings.)

Another half hour or so negotiating the snow bridge on the descent, then down the snow, back to the trail, to the pass, and out.

Took about 6 hours for the ascent.

Very much a recommended ascent, except for the obnoxious ascent to the gap. It may be that once things melt out a bit more, more manageable alternatives will become evident. And we did scope out several possible lines to climb from below the notch, up chimneys, cracks, or plausible-looking ribs. They looked good, but we didn't get close enough to evaluate the pro potential.

 

 

Gear Notes:

bug spray -- constant applications essential. Crampons were appreciated, ice axe would've been handy.

 

Approach Notes:

CRR is open. Cascade pass trailhead no longer requires the odious trail pass. Trail is quite easy to follow.

Edited by Alpine_Tom

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Glad you had a good time. Mixup is a fun climb in a great location. The lower part I remember thinking I was climbing on ballbearings. We only did two rappels and a lot of careful downclimbing. When I did it, we actually had to climb and stem across a moat more down from Gunsight notch and then traverse over some exposed 4th class you didn't want to fall from.

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Nice TR, Tom.

 

For the record, the Mountaineers has a description of Mixup in their list of climbs, but it's very rarely led (i.e. one attempt every 3 - 4 years).

 

I thought the "staircase" looked like one of those Mayan temples, myself... very cool! I wish more people would climb it - maybe they'd knock a bit more of the copious loose rock off the lower route...

 

We made an earlier season approach a few years ago (2002?) and were able to climb up the moat on the right side of the notch. The notch was definitely the crux of the climb.

 

-t

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I just climbed that with Fred a couple of weeks ago. He hadn't remembered climbing it but once on the summit realized he had climbed it from the West.

31DSC00190-med.JPG

 

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Would it be possible to avoid the fearsome moat at Gunsight Notch by climbing through Cache Col, and then doubling back? Or is the backside to crazy?

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We met a group of ppl on descend who were unhapppily mumbling something about the cache col moats.

The other side looked good from top, not sure how good it will be from bottom where you will likely have to drop after the cache col.

On the way to the gunsight col, actually few hundred yards before it, Tom and I saw few interesting variations on the lower headwall far to the right. If moats become showstoppers, I would go check these variations. They looked like 4, 5.easy. Might be loose, but definitely worth checking out.

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Here's a picture of Cache col. It would be an extra mile, at least, but the back side of the ridge is a pretty, grassy slope and probably wouldn't be that difficult to traverse. You could rapel down the right side of gunsite notch without much trouble; we almost did but I was too much of a cheapskate to leave a shiny new sling.

590428-DSCN2984.JPG.c56f34b2eb8d07d989630a87733b83ac.JPG

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