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Tom_Sjolseth

[TR] Ragged Ridge Traverse - July 22-24, 2006

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Ragged Ridge Traverse – July 22-24, 2006

 

18 years after climbing Mesahchie Peak with my Dad as a young boy, he and I decided it was time to visit the rest of the ridge. After going back and forth about which route we should take (North side traverse, South side Traverse), we decided on a traverse of the South Side from Easy Pass. Having mutual goals of climbing the "Top 100", our priority was to bag necessary peaks along the way, and we figured the South Side traverse was the easiest (and fastest) way to do this.

 

We arrived at the Easy Pass TH at 9:30AM. Hiking up to the pass was made pleasant by overcast skies and a relative absence of bugs. We met two young guys coming down the trail who wished us well with the flies. Luckily they wouldn't be bad until coming out on day 3. From the pass, we traversed West at ~6800-7000’ contouring towards the basin at 6800’ below Mesahchie. We arrived at camp at 2PM enjoying views to Arriva, Logan, Goode, and the Cascade Pass Peaks. When the temps dropped, the mosquitos came out in voracious swarms, and we decided it was a good time to head inside the tent. The cloudcover made staying in the tent bearable, and we even caught a few drops of afternoon drizzle... but only a few.

 

The next morning, we left camp at 5AM and headed over towards Kimtah. I’ve heard reports that the terrain here is heinous. I even read a thread on this site where someone said the South Side traverse "doesn't make any sense". I can tell you that it makes a lot of sense if your goal is to climb two or more peaks along the ridge. The South side traverse is faster than the approach from Fisher Creek, it's easier to access the peaks, and the terrain is pretty moderate. Marmot paths make the side-hilling bearable and there’s always a class 2-3 ledge that cuts through cliffbands. We never once got cliffed out and generally stayed on the same contour throughout the traverse (aside from the Grotesque Gendarmes).

 

The Grotesque Gendarmes look pretty ugly when you first get to them, but there are at least 2 easy ways through them, as we would find out on the return. Goldman mentions a ledge system that cuts through the Gendarmes between 7000-7400’. We didn’t find this ledge on the way over, but we did find a class 3 buttress that we descended to a system of class 3 gullies. Overall I think we dropped around 250’ down to the bottom of these adjacent gullies, to where we could drop no more (without a rappel). I then looked around the corner to the right and, true to form, there was a class 3 ledge that took us to easy terrain on the other side. Problem solved!

 

From the Gendarmes, we crossed another main gully before we began our ascent of Kimtah. The second main gulley after the Grotesque Gendarmes is the one we used to ascend Kimtah. This gulley nearly topped us out on Kimtah’s East Ridge where we found a nice little class 4 ridge that allowed us to cross to the next Gulley to the West (the summit Gulley). From there, it was class 2-3 to the summit. We summitted at 10:40AM. A Mountaineers register placed by Mike Torok has replaced the original register. This was strange since both Cosho and Katsuk each still had the original 1968 Roper Register. Anyone know the story on this?

 

From Kimtah, we tried to stay as much on the ridge as possible on our traverse to Cosho. The going here is relatively easy, compared with the rest of the traverse. We were able to follow ledges and gulleys to the pass between Thieves Peak and Kimtah (7800'+). We crossed over the pass, and dropped onto the Glacier on the other side. The Glacier has zero visible cracks at the present time and is easily soloable. We found a much-needed trickle of water coming off some rocks below the summit of Cosho, so we refilled there. There wasn’t much water on the entire traverse.

 

The ascent of Cosho is straightforward from the Glacier. We ascended the Glacier to its highest point on Cosho then climbed the East Ridge/Face to the summit (class 3). We summitted Cosho at 12:30PM, 1.5 hours after leaving Kimtah's summit. The views from Cosho are outstanding. It sits in a prime spot in the range … pretty much smack dab in the middle of it all. The view to the Pickets in their entirety is nice. Unbelievably, only about 25 parties have ever climbed Cosho. The original Roper summit "can" is still there. Roper calls this peak "Ragged End". I personally like Roper's names better for all the peaks, but I use the official names so people know what I'm referring to.

 

The traverse back to camp was easier since we now knew the route. On the way back through the Gendarmes we found the ledge system that Goldman mentions in her book. The West (Cosho) side of the Ledge begins very close to where we popped out on the way over, yet we never saw it at the time. Goldman’s Ledge begins at ~7000’ on the East end.

 

This morning I climbed Katsuk by myself since my Dad had already climbed it. He opted to get some much-deserved rest. The register was an interesting read. There are many well-known NW climbers in there.

 

This was another fantastic trip with the “old” man, and a trip I would highly recommend. The peaks on Ragged Ridge are seldom visited, yet the views are stunning.

 

As for the route itself...

 

From Fisher Creek, there's far more elevation gain (on both the approach and deproach), it takes significantly longer, and, in my opinion, it isn't nearly as aesthetic. We didn't encounter a lick of brush on the traverse, we stayed above the bugs (for the most part), and the going was pretty easy by Cascade standards. If your goal is to climb 2 or more of the peaks on the Ridge, I would recommend this route. I've seen some guides suggest [at least] 5 days for all 4 peaks. I would say all four could be climbed in 3 moderate days via the traverse. First day approach and climb Mesahchie. Second day climb Kimtah and Cosho. Third day climb Katsuk and out. Try doing that approaching from Fisher Creek...

 

Eldorado to Red Mountain as seen from Camp..

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Goode to Booker from Kimtah..

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Pops pulling the airy traverse..

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Kitling, Mesahchie, and Katsuk (foreground) from the summit of Kimtah..

9300IMG_0078_resize.JPG

 

 

Bonanza to ?Spire Point? from Kimtah..

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Panorama of the Pickets, with a peeking Slesse, from Cosho..

9300IMG_0086_resize.JPG

 

 

Sahale to Torment from Cosho. Vulcan Lake in the foreground..

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Red Mountain, and Terror and Sweetpea Lakes from Cosho. Baker to Luna in the background..

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Kimtah from Cosho. Golden Horn, The Needles, Tower, Hardy, and Silver Star in the background..

9300IMG_0101_resize.JPG

 

 

Katsuk's historic summit register..

9300IMG_0110_resize.JPG

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NICE SOUNDING TRIP!

Was this something you had planned for some time?

what are the overall grades, asthetics, exposures, roped pitches

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Sorry for not being clear...

 

We didn't traverse the ridge crest proper, rather we traversed between 7000-7400'. The traverse we did does not require rope (we didn't even have one). It goes at class 4 at the hardest. Traversing the ridge crest would be one hell of a feat. Lots of little gendarmes and spires to keep you busy for days. Still, this was a very satisfying trip that doesn't get done very much. It makes it even sweeter that the "old" man was along.

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That area is so cool and quinessential north cascades. I'm surprised it doesn't get more traffic as close to the highway as it is.

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Tom,

Just a couple of questions:

1. Was there still snow/water in the 6,800 ft. basin below Mesahchie where you camped?

2. Did you access the Kimtah Gl. from the 7800 ft. col between Kimtah and Theives Pk. and traverse around the north side of Theives Pk. on the Gl. from here to Cosho?

3. From the 6800 ft. camp did you traverse the slope to Kimtah at the 7000-7400 ft. contour??

 

Thanks for any info.

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Hi nuhights!

 

1) Yes, plenty of snow and running water in the basin S of Mesahchie.

2) Yes, crossed the col between Thieves Pk and Kimtah at 7800'+ (I erroneously said Cosho in the TR .. will change that). The going from here to Cosho's summit is easy.

3) Yes, we traversed between 7000-7400. We never really dropped or gained much more than 35 feet at a time, except to cross the Grotesque Gendarmes. When you approach the Gendarmes at ~7350', you will see a relatively deep chasm below. This chasm hides the ledge mentioned in Goldman. Goldman's ledge can be found at ~7000'. Another option would be to cross to the buttress directly in front of you, downclimb it ~100', find a gulley to your right, and descend it ~150' to where it drops away to slabs and a 75' drop. Look to your right around the corner at the top of the 75' drop (bottom of the gulley) and you will see a class 3 corner-bypass into the next basin on black rock. Either way works just fine. I prefer the latter option because you save about 100'.

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What a cool area, and a neat trip!

 

"Bonanza to Luahna from Kimtah.."

Are you sure that's not Goode and Storm King instead?

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Yes, that's Goode and Storm King in the foreground. But... one summit to the left of Goode, in the background, is Bonanza , and just to the right of Glacier Peak is what I first thought was the Clark-Luahna massif, but now I think it might be the Spire Point or Sentinel/Old Guard area. Directly in front of Glacier is Dome Peak. cantfocus.gif

 

Where's Klenke?! yoda.gif

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Yes, that's Goode and Storm King in the foreground. But... one summit to the left of Goode, in the background, is Bonanza , and just to the right of Glacier Peak is what I

...

 

Ah, right on, I often don't see the forest for the trees! cantfocus.gif

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