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[TR] Prusik Peak- West Ridge - In a day -7/22/2006

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Climb: Prusik Peak-West Ridge - Via Snow Creek TH


Date of Climb: 7/22/2006


Trip Report:

Despite the forecasted 104 degree temps in Leavenworth, my friend Jeff Ramos and I decided to climb Prusik Peak Saturday via the beautiful west ridge. The only catch is that Enchantment permit requirements make an overnight stay difficult, and the approach (Snow Lakes) is 10 miles and ~ 6,000 vertical feet. Rather than take our chances with the permit lottery, we decided to do it car-to-car in a day. We figured we could beat the heat by doing the approach in the dark & early AM, take advantage of the fact that much of the climb is on the north side of the ridge.


We arrived at the Snow Creek parking lot at 11PM Friday, and took a little nap in the gravel in from of the car, and started hiking at 2:30 AM. We made OK time, and got to watch the sun rise as we hiked from Nada Lake to Snow lake ~ 6 miles in. The trail up past Snow Lake was easy to follow with headlamp. Above that, cairns mark the route through low angled slabby rock at points – this might be a little more difficult in the dark, but it was light for us by then.


The steep mileage between Snow Lake and Lake Vivienne slowed us down, and we took breaks to stay fueled up and hydrated…making it to the base of the climb around 0900. A friendly group of 4 was nice enough to let us cut in front of them as they were camping in the upper lakes, and we had a 10-mile death march left at the end of the day. We all watched as a cute cuddly marmot scampered about the rocks at the base of the route (more on him later)


The climbing to gain the ridge was great fun…blocky 4th and low 5th class. I’ve read a number of TRs that express difficulty finding the start of the route, but we saw an obviously lichen free crack easily from the saddle. We climbed on a double over 8mm X 60M half rope which saved weight on the approach, and worked fine as we ended up simul-climbing after the first pitch until we gained the ridge near the crux. The ½ length was adequate to belay the 5.7 crux slab and exposed traverse to another good belay station. We then scrambled on ledges to below the final pitch(es). 30M might have been enough to get to the summit, but we set a belay after a 5.6 lie-back corner, 5.6 lie-back flake at the base of the final squeeze chimney as the rope drag was building. This worked great as it provided great photo ops of Jeff grunting up the final obstacle. He pulled up my pack and enjoyed watching me flail my way up as well.


After some summit shots, we began our first of 5 single rope rappels at which point it was a short scramble in rock shoes back to the start of the climb. After the first rappel, Jeff felt the need to mention that he had never gotten a rope stuck on rappel that couldn’t be freed with a few tricks below…..ummm….bad idea. Let’s just say Jeff got an extra pitch in, climbing the rappel route to free the rope.


On the way down, the mosquitos were horrible…..biting through clothes, wool socks, etc. We had some spray deet which was handy as you could mist your clothing as well as your skin. But eventually even it wears off, and in our desire to get back to the car we neglected to reapply, and paid dearly for this.


We both went in light footwear, Jeff in his running shoes, and I in low-top approach shoes, and they were more than adequate from a performance standpoint, although our feet were in pretty bad shape (i.e. feeling every pebble) by the time we reached the car at 9:30 PM….a 19 hour day!


Somewhere along the way down when Jeff took off his pack, I noticed that the nylon mesh on one side of his backpack suspension was suspiciously absent…..note to self…marmots, while cute, like to chew on salty plastic stuff.


Managed to find placements for Cams BD #0.4 – #3, but didn’t really need the #3. Used medium to large hexes a lot, particularly for building anchors, and mid to large stoppers mostly.


There were only a few patches of snow left on the approach, and none between the rappel exit and base of the route, so no need for crampons/ice axe, sturdy boots etc.


Here are some pix:



All-in-all...it was a really fun route, with moderate climbing and great exposure in a beautiful area.




Gear Notes:

8mm x 60M half rope

Small Rack to 3"

Approach Shoes/Running Shoes


Approach Notes:

Few snow patches

Had to take shoes off to wade across the dam spillway at Snow Lake

Edited by ericb

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You got some great pics. I'm one of the dumbasses that has trouble finding the start of that route. I've done it twice now and got creative both times. Ur way harder than me. I'd do just about anything to avoid hiking in or out from Snow let alone doing it twice in one day.

Edited by MountaingirlBC

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MountainGirl writes:


"I'd do just about anything to avoid hiking in or out from Snow let alone doing it twice in one day."


This is a constant source of debate on this website, but I prefer the Snow Creek Approach to Prussik over Ass-neck Pass, for all the reasons which are normally mentioned:


Fast, Direct, Bomber Trail, still about the same distance in the end without having to grind up the Big Hill. Don't knock it if you haven't done it that way!

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I'm intrigued about this campsite...that's a game changer...I'll have to look into it for next time.


As far as the start...I think the issue is that Beckey and Nelson describe different routes to gain the ridge. Beckey talks about traversing to a 5.6 dihedral I think, whereas Nelson starts you off directly above balanced rock. There was nothing approaching 5.6 the first pitch to the ridge on our route.


As far as Snow Lake vs. Aasgaard...the reason we did SL for the car-to-car option was 1) I was more confident that we could do the first 7 of 10 miles by headlamp that way, whereas I was less excited about picking my way around Colchuck and up Aasgard in the dark. 2) I thought descending Snow Lake on spent legs would be easier than descending Aasgaard.

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I screwed up. I thought that the Enchantment Zone ended at Prusik Pass but it goes out to beyond Mesa Lake so camping at the Lorelei lakes is not an option after all and have deleted that part from my previous post.


That being said.... if Gnome Tarn is taken, it would be a great Plan B for climbers. And Cannon is right there which is a super fun scramble too.


I have hiked the Snow trail actually so I'm authorized to knock it wink.gif . I find that Asswipe pass is better on my knees in the long run. Less elevation gain/descent too. Being able to see my car for the last 5 miles through burned out forest was crazy making. But that's a good point about tired legs. Going down is worse than going up so if you're tired it would probably not be safe since just about everything you step on moves. Seems to just be a matter of personal preference.


Here's a pic of the Lorelei Lakes:



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