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Jamin

[TR] Twin Peaks (Wallowas) - south ridge 5/26/2007

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Trip: Twin Peaks (Wallowas) - south ridge

 

Date: 5/26/2007

 

Trip Report:

At class 5.2, Twin Peaks is the only technical summit in the Wallowas. Only one summit actually remains. The other collapsed down the side of the mountain in the early 1900’s. The spire of Twin Peaks is composed of basalt, which is harder than the broken underlying rock, but like much of the rock in the Wallowas, it is crumbling. A subpeak is currently slightly undercut, and it will probably fall down the mountain in the near geologic future. The rock is solid in some places and very loose in others, which makes this peak difficult to protect and at a high risk from rockfall.

 

I decided to give Twin Peaks a try this past Saturday because it looked like an interesting summit. Because I was going solo, I only planned to attempt the summit if I felt comfortable doing the rock.

 

I reached the Hurricane Creek Trailhead at about 9am after driving 3 hours. About a quarter mile up the Hurricane Creek Trail, I took the fork to the right up toward Falls Creek. I quickly began to sweat profusely so I ended up completing the climb in my long johns. No big deal since I didn’t see anyone on the trail the entire day. I reached the mine, a shallow drift at about 7600 feet, about 2.5 hours later.

 

From that point the trail was completely covered in snow. I began an ascending traverse through scree and stunted trees toward a rocky 40-45 degree snowfield leading up toward the summit ridge. Along the way, I saw a small ice avalanche down an ice shute, and I was surprised to see that there was still a slowly decomposing pitch of about 100 feet of WI4. I will definitely try to spearhead an expedition to this area’s ice next winter. It was slow going once I reached the snowfield, and I had to negotiate my way around many areas of rock. At the top of the snowfield there was a level area at about 8900 feet, and I took a break on a grassy bench. After that quick break, I made a beeline to the summit ridge. After a quick look at the summit, I decided that it was doable. I took off my plastics, put on my rock shoes, and started climbing up the south ridge. The south ridge is knife-edged and very exposed. After a couple of scary moves, I was on top of the summit of Twin Peaks, which, at 9673 feet, is the 11th highest mountain in Oregon. This peak is definitely 5.2, and although I have dealt with worse rock before, the rock is still bad. Views were about 75 miles east toward the Gospel Hump Wilderness area and about 5500 vertical feet down to Joseph, Oregon.

 

The summit register / ammo tin was a bit soaked, but it was still interesting reading. There was a history of a group called the Mountaineer Knights as well as other interesting articles. It appeared that there was only one party that summited last year. I did not sign the register because it was wet.

 

After taking in the views, my thoughts turned to getting down. I had brought a 50 meter rope and all my rock gear with me on this climb so I could rappel from the summit block. However, I could not find a secure place to put any of the 20 odd stoppers that I had brought with me. The rock was so broken that no piece of pro seemed to be dependable. It seemed like the only way to set up a solid anchor was to wrap a piece of webbing around the summit block. I had brought a piece of webbing about 15-20 feet long, which fit around the loose boulders on the summit nicely. The rap down was uneventful.

 

The glissade down the mountain was rather exciting. Snow conditions were very slick, and it was difficult to stop on slopes that were around than 45 degrees. There were so many boulders and small cliffs in the glissade path that it made things very interesting. Once I reached the mine, it was an easy walk down to the trailhead. Pictures on this site http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7959905

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gear Notes:

Bring plenty of stoppers, etc. Even if they don't hold, they will probably slow you down. I also used a 15 foot sling.

 

Approach Notes:

Typical class 3 terrain until the summit block is reached.

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Thanks for sharing! My Dad lives in Enterprise and I rarely go out there. This beta is added motivation even if the rock is all rotten.

 

No other rap slings while you were up there?

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Okay.. I don't know whether I can come out any nicer. Good to know you had fun up there, but, honestly, I'm more happy that you made it back without killing yourselves. In fact, I have the same feeling every time you post a TR.

 

If you sincerely want to find experienced partners to do climbing with, deeds such as this one (and posts such as this one) are not going to help you. The common theme in most of your TRs has been "it was looking tough and dangerous, but I still did it. I'm a stud". You have more of the same theme in this TR. Most climbers would instantly dismiss you as being "crazy and stupid" after reading your TRs, and would think hard many times before climbing with you.

 

On the other hand, if you change the theme of your posts to "it looked dangerous, and so I decided to back off", you will find many people to climb with. For instance, If you had gone all the way to the base of the summit block, and decided not to climb that choss-pile, people would think "this dude has made a good decision". In the same way, if you had said "it looked rocky and dangerous to glissade, and so I plunged down", people would've loved you. Unfortunately, free soloing chossy 5.2 does not make you a climbing stud. On the other hand, you could've died trying to get off that summit block. Similarly, glissading shitty 45 degree snow weaving your way through rocks also does not make you a climbing stud, but you could've hurt yourselves hitting a piece of rock. Its good to know that you have adequate control to weave through rocks when glissading, and you can free-solo 5.2 rock. At the same time, you would've won more praises if you had shown the presence of mind to decide not to do these things, despite knowing you do have the ability to do them.

 

If you haven't read it yet, read this TR. Ryan has many years of experience climbing and skiing, and is real good at them as well. Think a little about how and why he turned back. The day you post a TR where you say "I turned back because it looked iffy", you'll find many climbing partners. You can get farther and higher with these partners.

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"Twin peaks is the only technical summit in the Wallowas".

 

Wow, I had no idea. I guess that 5.10d that Steve House put up is a serious sandbag.

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I'm not really sure what constitutes a technical summit... perhaps all routes to the summit require 5th class climbing? Maybe that's why the Matterhorn doesn't make the list.

 

FYI Steve House did not put up a route on the Matterhorn.

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FYI Steve House did not put up a route on the Matterhorn.

 

He did put a route up on Benthos Buttress, I belive it was Dave Jensen? who put up an A3 and A4 route up the Matterhorn.

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FYI Steve House did not put up a route on the Matterhorn.

 

FYI I did not say he did. The "Wallowas" are a big place. Whether Benthos is encompassed in that or not is arguable.

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"Twin peaks is the only technical summit in the Wallowas".

 

Wow, I had no idea. I guess that 5.10d that Steve House put up is a serious sandbag.

 

What he meant was that Twin peaks has no walk-up route, while most of the others, including the Matterhorn, have dog routes that just about anyone can hike up. They also have very difficult routes as you mentioned.

 

I have hiked up to Twin peaks several times for conditioning. I only climbed it once by myself, and as Jamin did, I took my chances. I also used a sling and rope to descend from the top, and was able to flip the rope to retrieve the sling. His account of the summit block is fairly accurate. It is not a long pitch at all, but extremely rotten, and exposed, especially on the W, lake Francis side. What has stopped me from soloing it is that if I fall off I would lay there for months before someone else visited the area. Even a minor injury would be fatal. So it is definitaly far better to climb it with a partner.

As far as the 40-45 degree snow approach, sorry, more like 25 to 30 degree walk up.

Jamin, I appreciate your energy, but really you should take someone with you next time.

 

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Well, I felt comfortable doing it, and I had a good time. The hardest pitch was 5.2ish, but the rest were just 4th class.

 

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