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[TR] Graybeard - North Face 5/12/2007


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Trip: Graybeard - North Face


Date: 5/12/2007


Trip Report:

Travis Blanchard and I climbed this rig on Saturday finding ridiculously awesome conditions most of the way. This route is simply the highest quality north face that I have climbed in the range. Under other conditions, it is likely to be an avy/debris death trap - caveat emptor. It is similar to Triple Coolers with steep snow capped by three distinct cruxes except Graybeard's cruxes are way longer and much steeper/more sustained than TC.


The high temps should have scared us away but a ski recon the previous day indicated that still enough snow/ice existed and we approached the route planning to bail if the ice was not in (I've got tons of experience doing this).


Overview of the line:





We bypassed the first little step (out of view just below the snowfield at the bottom of the pic) since it was rotten with lots of water running beneath. After ascending the snowfield, we reached the first ice which was about 300 feet of beautiful, super hard water ice.


Looking down at Travis finishing the first ice step:




Steep, firm snow leads to the next ice step which is capped by (what parties that do not get off route will find to be) the crux of the route.


Approaching the crux:




I could see how the top of the pitch could be super spicy, hard-to-protect mixed in leaner years but we just squeaked by with enough water ice to make this section a quality WI4 lead. Me nearing top of crux:




Unlike all previous parties, we were hit by almost NO debris during the entire climb - which is probably highly unusual since the entire climb is a runnel plumb-line from the top. Even with the solid conditions, we still decided to hold a busted face contest which Travis won:




In my defense, my shades are covering a lot of my blood and my cut was inflicted by the only ice that dinner-plated off (did I mention how good the ice was?) where Travis took the initiative to self-inflict his wound with his hammer.


More steep snow and another 200 feet of WI3- brought us to what should have been a 500' cruise to the summit - but things were going way too fast and easy, so I decided to get off route.


Up until this point, I think I said "nice f-ing ice!" about every three minutes. This was due to most of the lower 3/4s of the route never seeing the sun. The upper 500' does and the snow quickly turned very soft. Although the steepness decreases higher up, it still probably averages above 45 degrees and was beginning to collapse under body weight. At this point, two runnels meet in a "Y" - I went left because the snow was slightly less awful. After a vertical swim, I turned a ridge to find a low angle rock band. This slabby, hard-to-protect, 5.7-ish delight was where things turned hard. Every move prompted a thoughtful decision between loose rock or extremely soft snow over rock. Me enjoying the first solid stance on this band:




More steep, soft snow followed by easier mixed (back on route) to the summit cornice by I basically bypassed by skirting to the left which ended in a 10-foot vertical snow (or maybe cotton candy) wall to the true summit.


Travis looking a little less than thrilled topping out while expecting the snow to collapse before the summit belly flop mantle:




We descended down the south couloir and turned east via a combination of post-holing and swimming. It is hard to believe that this way out is easier than going west to Easy Pass since there you need to traverse high for a long slog.


It you can't get it in the next few days, it probably will be done for the year - but it really does not get better than this route in the Cascades.


Props out to Travis for coming off the bed (a couple seasons more removed than "off the couch") to join me on this one.


Gear Notes:

6 screws and 5 pickets until the off route part, then pins and small cams.


Approach Notes:

After crossing the main (second) bridge over Granite Creek, hike up and left until you hear Easy Pass Creek and then follow it up to the basin - super fast for the No. Cascades!

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I like shiny things! P1000587.JPG

Seriously though that was a freak'n sweet piece of real-estate to claw our way up with ice tools. I absolutely concur with Doug we found this thing in awesome shape for as soft and shitty as every thing around it was. After the descent the weather moved in behind us and it rained. I'm just glad we had the mother ship to return to. P1000583.JPG

Edited by dirtwigle
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Anyone remember back when layton had both a first name and a correctly capitalized last name, how great his TRs were? Man, that two-tentbound-climbers-in-the-Wallowas-get-drunk-and-morph-into-an-Ah-Ha-video was IT for me. It was like when Clapton first saw Hendryx and never wanted to touch his guitar again; I basically must of stopped writing TRs for at least a year after that.


So what happened? That other Graybeard TR left us so, so unsatisfied. Like a GoLight pack it was light and lean and all, but we all wanted a little stronger material, a few more attachment points, and a lot more style.


Where was the introspection? The personal growth? The Brotherhood-style overinflation of your partner's greatness ("I have postholed with the best, but nobody currently alive could come close to way Wayne postholed up the approach trail")? The homo-erotic undertones ("before I commited to the crux, I looked at Wayne, Wayne looked back at me, I looked up and then back into Wayne's strong gaze")? The gratuitous use of alcohol ("the climb was straightforward, the weather was fair, we got back to camp early so we had no choice other than to get good and drunk")? Gone, gone all gone, for this new trendy, night-naked writing style.


The only reason we climbed this silly line was because we thought it deserved a better TR. You think I really wanted to haul all the fake blood and the hand warmers to get it to flow? Travis really sucks at acting so getting him to make those stupid, agonized facial expressions took like forever. His only job was to secure a small amount of explosives for the staged avalanche but the Craig's List crap he got didn't ignite. The film crew sat in the camper the whole day waiting for the dramatic Joe-Simpson-like crawl-out of the avy debris (gear note - bring tele knee pads for this one) but Travis screwed up so bad, we walked out yelling at each other instead.


So c'mon, we want the old Mike back.

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Oh, and did you see out cornice hole?


No. I kept looking for a "15 foor tunnel" but did not see it. I just followed the cornice left until it was smaller and no longer overhanging (i.e., until it was not a cornice) and did two quick butterfly strokes to the summit. This turned out to be at the highest point on the ridge, AKA the summit.

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Your right. I'm a fake. A phony. School has sucked all the life out of me.


Suuuure, blame it on school.


Hopefully a move, change of scenery, and change of jobs will get me out of this slump.


And if not, you'll find a girl, quit climbing, pop out some kids, and read cc.com from work thinking of all that time you wasted while in school, like the rest of us.

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Your right. I'm a fake. A phony. School has sucked all the life out of me.


Suuuure, blame it on school.


Hopefully a move, change of scenery, and change of jobs will get me out of this slump.


And if not, you'll find a girl, quit climbing, pop out some kids, and read cc.com from work thinking of all that time you wasted while in school, like the rest of us.


Wow Alex. I sensed some angst. :wazup:

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You're next buddy! Every day I open email, waiting for "the announcement..."!


Weekend actually has to climb on a regular basis before he can stop climbing


Then again since WA state now recognizes "life partners" he and Beckey can finally constitute their "partnership"



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