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[TR] Gunsight Peaks Traverse - "Gunrunner" IV 5.10


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Trip: Gunsight Peaks Traverse - "Gunrunner" IV 5.10


Date: 7/11/2007


Trip Report:

traverse.JPG John Scurlock Photo


A long-winded TR from a long, windy climb...


The Gunsight range is a N-S trending ridgeline of fantastic granite near the southern end of the Ptarmigan Traverse. With four named summits over 8,000' tall and several intermediate pinnacles, it made the perfect candidate for an early July destination.


Dan Hilden (Dannible) and I spent 3 full days climbing up there this week, and completed 2 new routes, plus the second ascent of the E. Face. The first day we were tired from the approach, so we didn't aim for anything too big, but found an exciting climb anyhow. I'll let the pictures tell the story...




The route begins in the obvious corner which splits the face. We had to downclimb into the icy moat, so the first pitch is about 15' longer than it looks.




The first pitch was splitter fingers/hands and ended at a nice ledge.




Dan escapes the moat...




The next pitch Dan lead around to the right, then straight up through wild loose overhanging chimneys. Here's looking straight down past my shaking toes:




The last pitch was an easy romp to the summit where we found great views of Dome and Sinister.




Artsy rope throw photo on the descent



After playing in the spotlight of a natural cannonhole, we headed back to camp and sorted gear out for the next day.




On July 9th we circled around the range along the Chickamin Glacier to the north end, well past the NE peak. We found some great hand cracks which lead to the ridge crest at its terminus and began the traverse.




Wide stemming into a perfect hand crack...




From the ridge crest we climbed south on fantastic granite above the Chickamin and Blue Glaciers. N->S allows you to climb the steep North faces and descend the south sides of the peaks. Pitch 2 climbs to the left (East) side of the crest and featuresan amazing 5.8 corner and face crack. The day definitely had more of a "climb" feel than a level traverse, and we'd both fully recomend it if you have a complete day in the area. Along the way we had one single rap from the NE peak and one double rap from the middle peak. The fourth pitch on the route was a well-protected face climb leading to an exposed roof on golden rock.




We summited the Northeast peak in 7 or 8 pitches, and the climb to there would be a fun grade III. The last pitch to the NE summit actually began by circling around to the right (West) and climbing a chimney and then through the hole in the back of an enormous roof to the top.


From there it was on to the North and Middle summits. The West face, in profile on the right, is still awaiting a FFA.




There was one spot while climbing up the the North Peak where we were in a face crack which ended, so we pendulumed to the right to join other features. Apart from this bit of aid, the entire climb was done free, and I think we could have avoided it if we had looked ahead more carefully.




By the time we summited our third peak (the middle one) I was feeling dehydrated and exhausted, but Dan found his second wind and led on as the sun set.



He lead up to the top of the South Peak as the stars came out in force, and we rappeled down onto the Blue Glacier in the dark.




The next morning we went to the East Face of the middle peak to climb the route which Sol (Frosty_the_tradman) and friend did last summer. (By the way, congrats to Sol on getting married last weekend, your route is fantastic too!) We broke up the pitches differently, and belayed on comfy ledges. See their trip report for more details.





Above this splitter hand crack step right then up the finger crack and continue up the crack in the R-facing corner, over the lip(crux .10d), and to a big ledge. This elminates the need for a hanging belay and as long as you save one hand-sized cam for the last 15', it should be easy gear-wise, because of changing crack sizes.


The second to last pitch features a beautiful delicate slab climbing.




This face is in shadow all afternoon, and the sunset topout gets a Blake-and-Dan thumbs up.




This was a fun trip and Dan is a great partner and camp chef. It was nice climbing with another young punk for once, as we have a combined age of only 41.



[edited to add topo -porter]



Gear Notes:

Single cams Blue alien, #3 Camalot, #4 Camalot

Double cams Green alien - #2 Camalot

One set of nuts

Crampons, Ice axe


Should have brought more pringles...


Approach Notes:

Agnes Creek via Stehekin


Edited by porter
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Blake, good job on ripping up the 'East Side' of the N. Cascades. GS is a great peak and stellar granite.


I sent you a PM with some more detailed questions about your adventure.


A couple of questions:


1) How did you approach and deproach Gunsight? I would like to climb Agnes Peak at the tail end of the PT and would envision dropping into Spruce Creek... any issues you forsee or advice?


2) As far as the shuttle from Bridge Creek into Stehikan... do I need to make reservations or can I just wait with $$?


3) I want to get a ride to Chelan on lady of the lake One way. How should I make reservations (if at all) for this as I may not know the exact day I will be exiting?


Thanks for your advice... I know you know the ins and outs of Stehikan and that area well.


- Robert

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We tried the East Face of the Main as described in the then 'hot of the presses' Nelson Select II book. The route had dissapeared and we were forced onto the S. Face of the Main which was only 3 or 4 pitches from the rotten notch to the summit. The west face was of interest but we were scared of the 'offwidth' as described in Select I as we only had to a 3" piece.

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Yep, a great few days in one of the nicest places that I have ever been. The traverse should be a classic, and would be more popular than similar routes such as the Torment to Forbidden (that's really the only thing that I can think of to compare it to) if it were closer to a road. We pitched out about 15 pitches, simul-climbed a couple (class 4), and soloed a couple (low 5th and class 4) to help avoid a cold night. There were 3 or 4 5.10 pitches, and all but a few were above 5.5. What Blake left out about the last pitch and the 2 raps to the snow was that they were done in almost total darkness, without headlamps; headlamps and alpine starts are aid anyway.


The 2006 east face route is super cool. Solid rock, and really sustained. Aiding the crux by pulling on gear is pretty easy if that kind of thing isn't for you. We did a variation of that pitch (because we were confused) and A0ed up the wide flake to the right, which would also be about 10d. When we realised where we went wrong Blake dropped down and TRed the real splitter, which he really enjoyed. Due to our 5pm start, we enjoyed another summit sunset.


Our new route, Accidental Discharge, is not quite so classic. The fist pitch was good, but my pitch was pretty much just plain nasty. With several 5.10 overhanging offwidths and chimneys, poor protection, and rock so loose that I had to take inventory of what holds I could use before committing to cruxes, it is more like something you would find in the Olympics than in the Gunsight range.


Sorry for giving too much beta, but I am just still pretty stoked about how things worked out. Blake is a good parner, and knows this area of the Cascades more than pretty much anyone.

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