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[TR] Strobach Ice - 1/27/2007

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Trip: Strobach Ice -


Date: 1/27/2007


Trip Report:

Me and four buddies headed to Strobach on Saturday looking for ice after reading various reports over the last two weeks. We scored a sled for the long 6 miles in and left Portland at 4:30am. It took us longer than we estimated to get to the FS road and arrived around 8:30am.




We geared up and tried to figure out how to fit 5 guys plus gear on one sled. We were able to make this work by having the driver wear his pack and two others on each side standing on the rails while pulling two skiers. Amazingly this worked very well.




At the junction of FS Rd. 570 and 1201 (and after missing 570 completely and realizing our mistake at the junction of 1202 and Tieton Rd) we stopped to consult the map to make sure we were turning onto Rd. 1201. When we went to get back on the sled, it would not go. We thought the breaks were on, messed with the drive train, and even bled the break fluid foregoing breaks in hopes to get the sled to go but to no avail.




Finally we got the bright idea of checking the tread to see if it had frozen, and of course that was the problem. At least we knew it was cold enough for the ice to still be around!


We headed on up and after taking FS Rd. 1201 to the end and realizing our mistake again, we doubled back to Rd. 609 turn-off and headed up to the end, but not before blowing the belt on the sled. Luckily we had a spare (although it was an old one). We slogged in for about 45 mins. and finally reached the ice. Being that it was now 1:00pm, we decided not to head too far into the motherload and jump on the first ice that looked appealing. We decided on a nice line going at WI 4+ and a full 60 meters, that looked to have a serious second pitch of around WI 5+/6 and slightly overhanging pillar at the bottom.




I think this may be "Second on the Left". Even though the guidebook says "unclimbed" I am sure someone has done this first pitch, because it was so classic. It starts with fairly steep ice and only eases back one time until finishing with a steep and completely vertical section for about 40 feet to the top of the ledge.




Tim Garland led it in style and Jesse Woods and I followed.






Meanwhile, Matt Wills and Scott Kastengren were climbing First on the Left. They did the first pitch and did not have time to venture up one of the various options for the second pitch.


We rapped off just as night was falling and we did not make it to the woods after the boulder field before we were turning on the headlamps. We made it back out to the sled under clear skies and a nice bright moon. Tim and I skied down while the other three rode the sled. We made it back at the same time as the sled (due to the sled not having breaks and missing the turnoffs and having to turn around each time) as you can ski the entire way down with only minimal polling. I never had to take the skis off once.


We made it back to the car around 7pm and to some really cold beers.




We loaded everything up and headed to Naches for some Nachos (Mexican food and beer) and rolled back into PDX around midnight.


Thoughts on the Trip:


This place is amazing with a ton of lines in right now. These routes collectively blow Leavenworth out of the water and are on par with Banks Lake. There are a lot of climbs close together and there is a ton of area yet unexplored.


We will be going back, with a sled, and will stay for a weekend at a minimum.


Even if we had been dialed in and got to the area sooner, we likely would have stayed until dark, so the trip time would not have been shorter, we just would have climbed more ice.


We ran into a group of two climbers in the parking lot who were going in on foot. They had turned around after the first mile because they said it was just too far to get in there and climb. I would have to agree. Unless going in for a weekend, or if you really have the trip dialed and are fast, it would be more enjoyable over a weekend. Or simply take the second appraoch mentioned in the guidebook if going in on foot.


Notes on Ice and conditions:


The ice we saw and climbed was amazing. Sun did get on 2nd on Left and Third on Left and other climbs closer to the woods like Primus Sucks. There appeared to be a new line not mentioned in the guidebook between Primus Sucks and 3rd on the Left. There is also a shorter line that came in between 2nd on Left and 1st on Left, but very short. It's second pitch would be a wild mixed line.


The first pitch of Second on Left was awesome. The ice was very plastic and was a little deteriorated at the very top, where it gets the most sun. The deathcicles looming above on the second pitch did not let loose (except a little when the sun first hit it) and were dripping with water until the sun set, then abruptly stopped and were likely re-freezing.


Matt and Scott reported ice on First on Left a little different. They reported very hard ice that dinner plated even on face ice and took 3-5 strikes just to sink the tool and to clear the few top layers of ice. Matt, who leads WI 5 comfortably, stated the ice was in layers and very brittle as it never sees sun. When Scott got on the TR, the whole line shuddered and settled at which point they both quickly got off and cleaned the route and headed back.


All in all, this was as much an exploratory trip as anything else. We learned a lot about the area and will be back again. It is in an awesome setting, you feel totally removed from anything and the views over to Rainier are incredible. We had stellar High Pressure weather and it remained cold the entire day. This ice should be around for a while, especially those on the right side of Separation gulley, which did not see sun the entire day.


I would say that a day trip from Portland (20 hrs. for us) can be a little much and a full weekend would be perfect for this place. Plus, there is so much ice we would not have left if we had the gear.


One note to Alex and Jason. The route description of Second on Left states, "Climb a short, low angle flow to a steep pillar above." I would say that this first full rope-length flow is neither short nor low-angle. It is solid WI 4 and fully vertical at the top as you can see from the pictures. Either that or we have no clue what we were climbing! I would say this is an accurate description for Third on the Left.


Finally, go get out there! It does rival almost any other ice climbing area in the Pacific Northwest! Thanks to Sobo and Alex for quality beta.






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Good job.


You climbed the first pitch of "Second on the Left" (probably the FA, no less). At time of first writing and in the years since I had never seen that first pitch form even remotely as well as it is this year, so to my knowledge it was still unclimbed before this weekend. It might have been climbed perhaps once before by the Hagins, but not to my knowledge. That route's upper pitch very commonly forms only half way down the cliff; armed with that knowledge I dry-tool TR'ed the upper pitch off a two bolt anchor I drilled during the Summer of 2005 with the intent of seeing if the first 30m would go safely with natural pro to the spot where the ice commonly forms to, or if it needed bolts. After a few tries, we discovered that it would protect naturally well enough, but we also discovered the rock was really rotten and a few death blocks in the corner were poised to launch, and decided that the only real safe time to climb it would be when it was completely iced over. Like this year. But I am not in shape to lead that thing now.


After all that we realized how truly long the first pitch is: its a rope streacher! The scale of the place is decieving. It was one hell of a lot of work lugging in drill and batteries and ice climbing gear in July, even with the shorter drive. Anyway, thats a long winded way of saying that I agree that "Climb a short, low angle flow to a steep pillar above." was wrong. I now know better! Ah well.

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Thanks Alex. Yeah, we thought we were on Second on the Left. That first pitch is great! Looks like you could top rope that climb too if you came across the ledge from 3rd on Left for those not wanting to lead WI4. We also rapped off of a fir tree to the left of the climb tying a 70 meter and 60 meter rope together. Two 60s should work as well.


Also, that second pitch looks like it would definitely go for a hardman! The right side of the column looks like it would make it a little easier, but not sure if it will hold on much longer in the sun. It was still really cold, but the rock may warm that upper pitch up beyond it being able to hold on.

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I'm not sure if I'll get a response to this as aged as this thread is but:


Is there truly top ropable ice here? Is it worth the long hike/ride in if we don't plan on leading anything?

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