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Generally Poor Condish's on NF Index--Friday

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Four pitches up the NF of the North Peak is hardly worth a trip report, but there might be some useful info to be gleaned here. And, either way, its always fun to read new stuff...


Taking advantage of the stable weather, we left our camp on the shoulder at dark:30, with easy cramponing up the initial snow slope. In the low-level fog hanging around, we found ourselves drawn a little more left than expected and roped up at 4:30 for a short body-length-and-a-half vertical step. Clipped a KB and sling (attached to something buried) above it and kicked good steps up to the "very steep wall" mentioned in Nelson. Our thought had been to climb right of this wall on what, from down low, looked to be good AI3 eventually angling off right and into the bowl. Swinging our head lamps around this stuff in the fog of early morning (metaphorically and literally), what we saw looked steeper and snicy-er than expected. We headed left of the wall, on the path of least resistance, up a short step with loose snow to a tree belay (gobs of slings on it, though buried, requiring some excavation and a long arm).


The decent way off the belay was into the gully to our left, with loosely snowed up steepness above and to our right. A delicate traverse into the "shallow gully", with a red zero to start out, sent Clive (Raoul Duke) up to the base of what turned out to be a near vertical 50-60ft rock step of unconsolidated snow with a thin crust. You'll notice traversing back right on the "hidden ledge" STAYED hidden to us. Clive boldly launched upward, only being able to see a couple feet at a time due to fog, and it rapidily deteriorated into a horror show of vertical powder. He ran the rope out 3/4 of the way up not having found a single piece, which left a lowly red zero ten feet from the belay as the only thing between him and a factor 2. 15 min of excavation led to a crappy specter and even crappier orange tcu. He somehow avoided barfing, smoked 3 cigarettes, and announced he would not be going any farther (and rightfully so).


About this time, the fog bank lowered, the stars came out, and we could pick out some landmarks. One was the lower part of the north rib to our right which we could not see and obvious way over, and another being the huge pile of crap Clive was clinging to presently. 10 more min of excavation led to a bomber double cam anchor to which Clive brought me up, the clock beeped 7:00, and we happily agreed that the face was "not in"-- at least to our liking. At this point, the commitment of the climbing was becoming a little rich for our early-season blood. Things were getting cruxy and we weren't anywhere near the "crux." Continuing on would just likely mean slow progress and an extra rap or two.


We happily rapped off a black metolius and better-placed specter (booty), back to the tree, off the tree to a pin anchor built in a small, NE facing wall, and off that to a group of three trees on the initial snow slope.


The day dawned at exactly 8am as were rapping, it was a gorgeous one with full on sun, the surrounding peaks popping out perfectly against the blue sky, a blanket of fog sitting low in the valley. If we had pressed on somehow(?), conditions would likely have improved with elevation, but how much was the question. They really didn't have anywhere to go BUT up. With our intentions of not bivying, the prospect of crappy snice and a fight for every piece was not inviting.


The moral of the story is the face seems to be in limbo right now, with too much snow to make for good mixed, but not enough ice to make for good ice. (And note: The rock is super compact, so when I say "good mixed," I mean harder than I'd want to climb, so I'll be in the group waiting for some more melt-freeze:)


What an amazing oasis of full-on alpine, though, and only 4 hours from the car! Unfortunately, my buddy's headed back to school on the east coast, so if this thing is on your list, lets get together when it looks good.





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Wow, great effort guys. That's a good read, too, thanks for posting.

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Nice pictures, esp. the last one!


I suspect that the ice on Index is rarely very good. We found lots of cool looking lines that turned out to be 4-6" of snice pasted onto blank rock with, as you point out, hard to protect rock.



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The day dawned at exactly 8am as were rapping, it was a gorgeous one with full on sun, the surrounding peaks popping out perfectly against the blue sky, a blanket of fog sitting low in the valley.



There aren't a whole lot of worse places to be than the N peak of Index when the sun hits. It rarely, barely, stays cold enough up there. Catch one of those nasty, grey overcast days in a cold snap, though, and stuff stays glued on a lot better.

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