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robertm

[TR] Bear Mountain - DNB 7/26/2007

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Trip: Bear Mountain - DNB

 

Date: 7/26/2007

 

Trip Report:

Mark Pratt and I decided to venture into the N. Cascades to climb Bear Mountain after I was inspired a couple of years ago on the summit Redoubt looking at the N. Face and DNB. We wanted a long and challenging rock climb and this route served up the goods. The approach begins mellow enough on a road and after about an hour your start navigating up and over huge logs often using them as elevated passage ways across the forest floor. After reading Mike Layton's and others account of being mired in a swamp I was cautious to always try to find the trail which is very faint in some places as Devils Club and Salmon Berry are quickly reclaiming it.

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Between Little Chilliwack and Bear Camp it is often best to stay close to the river especially if you lose the trail at large stream slides where there is a lot of sand and rock completely covering the trail.

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The mile or so between Little Chilliwack and the large slide alder patch (which can be passed on a new trail forming by the river) took the longest as it was hard to keep finding the trail and going was slow through devils club and downed trees. It pays to find the trail once past the big slide alder / washout section as the trail is excellent to Bear Camp. From Bear Camp take the left branch and proceed directly uphill. It is not critical to stay on the path - there are some flags here and there - generally you stay on the ridge crest through heavy timber and enter a burn zone. Don't go too far left as you want to come out on a ridge above Ruta lake and the old fire trail will cliff out to the left. It doesn't hurt to stay right when in doubt. After about 2500 feet of fairly easy going you will enter some tough going through Mountain Azaleas. These are like going through a hound dogs hair from the rear end up. Tough going. After about 400 feet of this hell you emerge onto the ridge crest.DSC01163.JPG

In a little less than a mile you will will be able to look down on Ruta lake about 500 feet below. I was thirsty and out of water but we spied snow patches above and chose to keep going. It was hot at this point and we took occasional rests beneath the alpine firs. We rounded one sub-summit and ended up climbing directly up to the largest sub-summit (which you aren't supposed to do) but it wasn't a big deal and afforded great views of the N. Face in profile (although, we couldn't see our route the DNB as it was mostly blocked by the Direct West Buttress)DSC01166.JPG

From here it is mostly 3rd class down to the bivies at the col which are visible below. We chose a patch of trees about 100 yards from the Col as it was flatter and closer to running water. It did not spare us from the multitude of mosquitos. Out time from Car to Camp was 11 hours (7AM - 6PM). We made some Ramen, Freeze Dried Potatoes and a freeze dried entree and washed it down with Makers Mark. We awoke around 3:30 AM and ate breakfast and left camp around 4:30. The descent down the Col was no big deal (snow all the way to the top) with Aluminum crampons. We used our headlamps for the first hour of the approach finding our way through a fog that had risen from the valley floor. We were hoping this would clear as we climbed the buttress. It was a bit spicy getting across the moat but uneventful. It was now about 6:00 -- 1.5 hours from camp to base. From here I led out a couple of pitches of 5.7/8 to the base of the really cool dihedral pitch. Mark took this pitch.

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The next pitch went up and slightly left through some loose ground through good rock and a 5.8 roof. I ran it out to the end of the rope and set up a belay. At this point we were above the clouds.

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Some more great climbing and lead swaps brought us to the traverse - or at least what we thought was listed as the traverse to the "5.6 Ramp"

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Mark led out on this and never encountered a "5.9 move" as mentioned in the Kearney guide. We traversed almost 100 meters. I took the lead and headed down and across a chasm and up a dubious looking redish dihedral/face. Nothing really looked like a 'ramp' to this point. The next pitch was one of the scariest I have ever led in the mountains. It was steep and loose (5.8/9) with no opportunity for protection. The rock was in a state of decomposition. I was finally able to create a nest of TCUs in a horizontal crack at my feet before comitting to some very exposed moves to heave my way onto a pedastal where I could get one really good stopper for the belay. This lead took about 1 hour and our pace had slowed. It was now around 11 AM and we still had a ways to go and I was guessing we were off route. Mark took the lead up and left around a corner and shouted down that the ground eased up. So we had entered the 3rd and 4th class ground and could see wet slabs wher the snow patch above was melting. Due to choose and wetness we chose to go left up the crest on 5.7/5.8 ground. Some really good pitches on good granite but probably slower. We reached the snowpatch at around 12:30 PM and admired the views toward Redoubt.

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I took the rack and had to negotiate the snow patch which had created a deep moat where it layed against the rock. I could see the curving crack above and was dismayed that the upper half looked to be full of dirt and grass. I tensioned over into the crack system and climbed until just below where the crack got clogged. I was then able to reach over and climb up over right. This was steep and here is where the Alpine Select was on and Kearney was off. Take the left most of these cracks (5.9/10) do not proceed up the 5.8 dirt crack without pro. From the top of this pitch it was one more good steep 5.8 pitch to the where the Beckey-Fielding route joins and the stellar Dihedral - fist crack. Mark took the rack and charged up this crack.DSC01176.JPG

In my mind this is a sandbagged pitch. Some call this 5.8 and others 5.9. It is steep and probably was the most physical climbing of the climb. It would be 5.9 at Index. Although from below it looks like you need wider gear there are many protection opportunities. A couple more 5.7 pitches led up to the base of the famous offwidth and a great belay.

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Mark climbed up the offwidth for about 20 feet and stepped out and right to avoid most of the ugliness. The north face off to our left was awesome.

 

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From the top of this pitch we proceeded directly on the crest. There is a fixed station here where the Beckey-Fielding (North Face) route drops down into a chossy gully. The climbing on the crest has sparse protection but great rock and is mostly in the 5.9/8 range. This is about 2 pitches in length. We thought the lower part was harder than then 5.10 - cracks mentioned by Kearney. This looked like the better option than the Burdo variation off the left (overhanging 5.10 crack system).

From the top of this section I grabbed the rack without bothering ot sort the gear and stayed on the crest directly... encountering great 5.6 climbing on solid rock.

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The summit loomed above as we topped out on the ridge 12 hours after we started climbing.

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It took about 20 minutes from here to the summit proper of Bear and great views of the Pickets.

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The descent to camp is straightforward and cush. Takes about an hour. Go skiers left as you descend and you will pick up some cairns that take you around the bowl. If it seems harder than 2nd class you are probably off route. We were back in camp around 7PM. The hike out the next morning took about 7 hours. We celebrated by taking a plunge into the lake.

 

Gear Notes:

Medium rack to 3" - doubles in TCUs 1-3

 

Approach Notes:

Devils Club and Salmonberry

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Nice work guys! Great climb huh? IMO it is on par with N ridge of stuart... just a more wild/remote...

 

The north face off to our left was awesome

 

It still waits a second ascent! A 7 pitch grade VI! How bad can it be? :laf::grlaf::laf:

 

This looked like the better option than the Burdo variation off the left (overhanging 5.10 crack system).

 

Those cracks are awesome! Highly recommended!

 

 

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fantastic route. nice work.

 

... We traversed almost 100 meters. I took the lead and headed down and across a chasm and up a dubious looking redish dihedral/face. Nothing really looked like a 'ramp' to this point. The next pitch was one of the scariest I have ever led in the mountains. It was steep and loose (5.8/9) with no opportunity for protection. The rock was in a state of decomposition. I was finally able to create a nest of TCUs in a horizontal crack at my feet before comitting to some very exposed moves to heave my way onto a pedastal where I could get one really good stopper for the belay.

 

this made me chuckle--somewhat uncomfortably--as we went the same way, and I had the same moderately bowel-shaking experience on that horror-show pitch. hahaha. sweeet blood-red rock.

 

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What is the right way? Is it to not traverse as far over and head up? It looked pretty steep all along the way. Or were we at the wrong traverse? I guess I will need to climb it again to figure it out. Amezing how that mountain puts a spell on you and you forget the hardships of the approach soon after it is over. Judging by the repeats in the area it looks like it has the same effect on others. Here is what Fred had to say:

 

HELLO THINK YOU WILL HAVE YOUR TIME FILLED ON BEAR IT IS A FAIRLY GOOD WORKOUT JUST GETTING THERE I WOULD NOT WANT TO DO ANYTHING ELSE AFTER THAT, EXCEPT GO SWIMMING IN SOME LAKE WITH PRETTY GIRLS

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Great pics and TR.

 

I'll put that on the list for next year. Still hoping to get to Slesse in a few weeks...

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Hi robertm,

 

Thanks for the great post, and I was glad to see folks are getting out and doing this route; sounds incredible. I'm planning to head out there sometime the third week of August, and wanted to ask you about your rack suggestion. It seems like most descriptions of the route describe hand/fist cracks and some wider cracks, but you say gear to 3 inches. I see you mentioned there are other opportunities for other (smaller) pro.; is this true throughout the route where the cracks are fist size (4 inches presumably) or wider? My partner and I are relatively comfortable on 5.10 cracks and would love to obviously minimize the load on the hike out there! Again, awesome post, great photos, and really helpful in terms of our planning for a trip out there.

 

Also, does anyone know if there are any recent reports of the status of the pocket glacier on Slesse? That was another route we were considering, but were hoping the pocket would fall out.

 

Thanks, Jeff

 

 

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Jeff, it is a great route. As far as gear goes we took a #3 Camalot with doubles in TCU 1 - 3 and .5 - #1. This seemed to work pretty well. You might consider doubling the #2 size if you want to be really solid. If you are gung ho on the OW you might take a #4. Other than that you don't need a monster rack for this route. It isn't that hard and is doable by the weekend warrior that is comfortable on 5.10a stuff and has a nose for route finding. Slesse is a great route as well. I thought they felt about comparable -- however the descent on Slesse makes the descent off of Bear seem like a walk in the park. Have fun... a cool option if I were making the trip out here would be to Head up Bear and then drop over to Bear Lake for a camp and then up Redoubt and go out through Depot creek. Worth considering for a grand tour of the high country.

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Nice accomplishment and great TR! These are the best photos I've seen of the actual climbing on this route.

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Robert,

 

Thanks for the reply. We are definitely psyched about the trip and really looking forward to seeing and climbing in the Cascades - first time for both of us. We'll probably keep the rack light since it sounds like we won't be running into long parallel sided crack systems with nothing but hand sized cams for pro. Have you learned anything else about the traverse where it sounds like you think you might have been off route? We'd like to avoid the pitch of choss if possible; perhaps the 5.10 crack climbing a la the left hand variation is the way to go. One more question: do you feel like boots are warranted for the approach - would prefer to use approach shoes with crampons where needed, but it sounds like we've got some sig. time on snow to the base of the route.

 

Cheers, Jeff

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That big wall off to your left, with the "<> Route" was just a big ordeal. Pete said they left their crampons hanging on the wall down low, left his hammock hangging on the wall, topped out in a snow storm and left two ropes hanging, one draped over the summit. It was more like a 7 pitch loose all your gear climb. He also said when they hiked in there, the trail was like a free way. Families with kids, old people, etc, no brush or downfall.

 

Good to see someone got in there.

Edited by AlpineMonkey

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I thought I'd dredge this thread up since my friend Neale Postma and I used it for beta when we climbed the route about a month ago (thanks for the TR).

 

We had a hard time finding the route, and as a result did a lot of exploring. Since no one has answered robertm's question:

 

"What is the right way? Is it to not traverse as far over and head up? It looked pretty steep all along the way. Or were we at the wrong traverse? I guess I will need to climb it again to figure it out." I thought I'd post up with what we found out.

 

If you find the Red Dihedral, you're on the wrong traverse. That traverse starts two short (probably better as one long) pitches above the top of the crux dihedral, and is obvious from the belay. We went that way first and I led around the corner to see the dihedral, where you enter a patch of increasingly bad rock (I actually don't know how you even managed to get in the dihedral since the rock was too bad for me to even fathom getting over there). We had the benefit of knowing that that pitch is off-route, and so we went back.

 

INSTEAD of doing the first, obvious traverse (which robertm posted a picture of in this TR), continue up the slightly grassy corner with sparse pro. At the top of the corner a short section of thin 5.9 goes right (I got some lousy nuts as my only pro for these moves) and mantles over to a belay. Now the correct traverse is obvious, and has an awkward 5.9 move. At some point it opens up and becomes obviously 4th/low 5th for a few rope lengths up to the snow patch on the big ledge.

 

Our experience on the route was somewhat marred by a lot of route finding trouble and a huge number of loose blocks. When I came back my assessment of the route is that I wouldn't recommend it, but, as usual, now I've forgotten about all that and wistfully think that I should do it again.

 

One other note: on the hike in we followed the remnants of the "trail", but on the way out we took advantage of the hot days and the low water in the Chilliwack River and just walked in the river, linking up the gravel bars. We rarely waded more than knee deep and only dipped in the Family Jewels once or twice. This was clearly the way to go, and might be easier on the way in, as well.

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That Mark Pratt is somewhat of a stud. I'll bet not many know that his first trip up Outerspace was 3rd class (with Pope). Furthermore, he appears to prefer a Wild Things Ice Sac, which confirms the size of his sack (I still use mine....sure is heavy but you can drag it behind your car).

 

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On 8/2/2007 at 2:23 PM, lunger said:

fantastic route. nice work.

 

 

 

this made me chuckle--somewhat uncomfortably--as we went the same way, and I had the same moderately bowel-shaking experience on that horror-show pitch. hahaha. sweeet blood-red rock.

 

Haha.  We did the same thing back in July this year.  "Traversed", then climbed over a big dongler type thing...then up a gross red dihedral thing with grass and very little gear to be had.  Such fun!  The photo I am attempting to attach in on the "Dongler Traverse"...

IMG_20180728_092226.jpg

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