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[TR] Whitehorse Peak - Parade Route 4/26/2008

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Trip: Whitehorse Peak - Parade Route


Date: 4/26/2008


Trip Report:

Took a couple of office friends along on an early-season slog to

the top of Whitehorse during Saturday's rare break in the

Northwest gloom. This shot from the Shell station, taken after

we'd descended and were having coffee, shows the entire route.

After a brief 'shwack through the shortish approach, we basically

hugged the cliffs along the right side of the main slopes in the

center of the frame. Half an hour after snapping this shot, we

were contentedly scarfing Mex' and chaining Dos Equis in

Marysville--nice day in the hills.





The main 'schrund, which can be a formidable barrier in late

season, is currently so filled-in it's a jog! This mountain is

holding a major snowpack right now, and even with the snowshoes,

we were punching pretty deep. Snow stayed soft all the way up.




Alex [black shell], charging up the mountain's upper slopes. Out

for only his second climb ever, the 20-something made short work

of the 6600-ft. gain. ...watch this space...potential mountain

monster! Kudos also go to office mate Tommy who, despite having

forgotten to bring snowshoes, still somehow managed to swim to

the summit without shaving a second off the group's sub-5-hour ascent!




Pretty but interminable trudge...




Preparing to finish it off. The final climb to the summit ridge

ramped up a bit, but the snow was so friendly that the 'pons

never came off the packs.




Topping out in deepish but nnicely firm powder....




Tommy, nearing the summit, with a parade of two-plankers strung out below.




My summit shots were crap, but the views were v-e-r-y nice!




EJohnson, enjoying a leisurely, picturesque drop...




Gear Notes:

snowshoes, boots, 'pons [never used], sticks, axe, snax, WATER!


Approach Notes:

After doing this one a few times in years past, we've figured out a pretty quick path through the nastiness down below. Snow is currently deep, soft, and a tad annoying, but this makes for a screaming fast drop--win some, lose some....s'all good.

Edited by zoroastr

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Good one. Here's an overview:




For those interested in this climb, the route is illustrated wrong in the guidebook. It takes the righthand basin, in the middle of the photo here.

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Hmm. Interesting. I don't know what the various routes are called, but I do know with absolute certainty that the route we climbed is visible in the photo I took from the Shell station. As I look at the pic, I can recall each landmark along the way.

Thanks for the info, though...I like mountain trivia!

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The lefthand of the basins shown in my overview is Sill Basin, and a first reported ascent of it was listed in the Northwest Mountaineering Journal a few years ago.

nwmj.org 2004


From the gas station at Mine Road, you don't see the basin to the east. (You'll see what I mean if you compare the satellite peaks at upper right in your "overview" and the ridgeline bordering your route on the left to those shown in my "overview" and then look at my photo that is incorrectly labeled in the most recent Beckey guide.)


Older editions of the guidebook used a photo that didn't show the "righthand" basin very well. From Darrington itself, you don't see the westerly one at all.



Here's my photo on the upper part of that Whitehorse Glacier Route. You can see that part of the intermediate background ridgeline is similar to one of yours:




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Nice work guys! I shy'd away from this one, worried that the snow would be way too sloppy on Saturday but it looks like it was pretty reasonable.

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I'm thinking about doing this route... how did you "avoid the nastiness below"? Would love to avoid the class 4 scrambling on moss-covered rocks I have seen in other TRs...



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Here's my naive attempt to address your questions. I'm not a very advanced climber and I'm not very good at orienteering or route finding; I'm the type who'd rather just head for the hills and poke around until I find the best route, even if it takes several trips. Fortunately, my climbing partner is a professional surveyor who typically takes a much more disciplined approach to the whole climbing thang. In the case of Whitehorse, we've summited more than once, but the first couple of times we tried it, we made it way more difficult than it needed to be. Here's one way to snag the thing quick:


1. hike the approach trail until you pass the small mine entrance on your right.


2. continue into the main drainage creek and mount the avy debris.


3. follow the drainage creek [avy debris in early season] until it splits and is joined by another large, incoming stream to the right [also totally iced over right now].


4. start heading up this other creek / avy path as it leads you away from the tempting, direct route up the main drainage.


5. as you move up this other, lesser drainage, start shopping around on your left for an easy way up onto the heavily wooded 'schwacky, steepish slopes.


6. once in the woods, start a rising traverse through the dense, rotten woods that gradually trends to climber's left, and back toward the main peak. this'll put you in a long gully, which you'll want to follow up for about 500 ft. of vert.


7. pop into the woods again, and continue your rising, left-trending traverse.


8. this'll put you in another smaller gullly, but you just want to keep moving up and toward the main, central drainage and the open slopes below the upper reaches of the main peak.


9. eventually, your rising traverse will dump you out in clear slopes, with cliffs on your right. Stay far enough away from the right-hand cliffs to avoid the mini 'lanches that will occasionally send down a few bowling balls.


10. the rest is simple: just keep moving up, hugging the cliffs to climber's right. move past the easy, filled-in 'schrund and up to the summit plateau and the gorgeous, moderate slopes to the actual summit ridge.




Avalanche concerns:

Well, yes, we did encounter a few small surprises as we moved up past the cliffs. We knew going in that these cliffs might send down some of their still-considerable load, but they're are really just small sloughs, and the underlying snowpack is stable.

Still, given the current conditions, it probably behooves the prudent climber not to tarry en route to the stabler slopes above the 'schrund.



--------hope this helps. enjoy a great moderate route!

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My camera is my trusty, 3-yr-old Canon A510 PowerShot, with a whopping 3.2 Megapixels--purchased at Fry's for 120 bucks. It's small, easy handling, and the bundled software does a pretty good job of stitching panos.



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Thanks for the details on your route low in the basin. Did you use your snowshoes for that part, or only when you got above the cliff bands?

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Keep your eyes open. Later in the year, there is probably less variation (and one route report here suggested there is a vague trail that may or may not be obvious) but now I bet the best choice is likely to vary from one week to the next.


When I climbed this route I bet there was a little less low elevation snow than there is right now. We found a way to skirt the cliff bands that block the main drainage both left and right. We went up on the left (which involved a little bit of crawling through bushes on a long traverse to get back to open slopes on the right side of the main basin) and came down the right (more snow-covered on that outing, roughly at this time of year, but it involved some falling in holes and jumping off a little rock band that was, on that day, probably better for descending than climbing).

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the shoes didn't go on until we were out on clear slopes, above the trees below. Until that point, you're on concrete avy debris, then 'schwacking through a bit of snow-free forest slope, interspersed with gullies that were holding a bit of punchy, deepish snow below, but quickly firmed up as we ascended.

Once again, the key to finding the "freeway" is to avoid the early temptation to head straight up into the cliffs of the main drainage, opting instead for the trees to the right. If you pay your dues with the early 'schwack, you'll more than make up for it higher up...enjoy!

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We skied Whitehorse today and it was glorious. Luckily, the sun never came out for very long and the temps stayed cool enough to make the avy danger manageable. There was enough new snow to cover all the tracks from last weekend. We followed zoroaster's beta to the extent that we did go up the avy debris filled gully that comes in on the right, but we just stayed in it up to 2700' and then took a snow covered ramp to the left onto the rib that divides the right hand gully from the main basin. Once on the rib, we were able to make a level traverse on snow over to the main basin. There was no schwacking involved and, under present conditions this seems like a clean, efficient way to start your climb. I believe on of my compadres will post a TR with pics soon.

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Glad to hear your trip came off ok...congrats! Sounds like you guys improved on our approach route--nice! Can't wait to check out the pix...


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