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RJRiha

[TR] Tran Spire 50 years after the first ascent - 5.3 Route 7/18/2008

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Trip: Tran Spire 50 years after the first ascent - 5.3 Route

 

Date: 7/18/2008

 

Trip Report:

Terry and I went today to go climb Tran Spire. This is a seldom climbed route just north of Jefferson Peak. Our research only came up with 1 other party (first ascent party) doing this climb in 1958, so we had the 50th anniversary climb of this obscure peak.

 

We forded the Hamma Hamma River just across from Black Wall. I took an unexpected dip in the river as the river current was strong. This climb smelled of epic from the beginning.

 

We took the left side drainage up towards Jefferson Peak, which is not listed anywhere in the guidebook as an approach route. We have no clue if anyone has ever approached from this direction, nor whether it would "go" or not. The bushwacking was minimal from the standards of the area (some healthy devils club/slide alder/etc), with the real 'schwacking starting out at around 3000 feet. Many green belays were necessary along with kicking steps in the thick moss and pine needle carpet to skirt the cliffs. There were spots that were quite hairy, but better than the alternative route (Pershing route 5).

 

We reached the base of Tran Spire at about 7-8 hours after leaving the car. We quickly learned that this peak is QUITE chossy, with most of the rock being a strange conglomerate that resembled rocks and pebbles cemented together with dense sand. The first lead took us up about 60 feet, through generally crappy rock and trees. The second lead was about 150 feet, with more choss and some class 5 moves on grass and moss. We topped out and found a summit register and a toy towtruck. This peak was climbed in 1958, 1977, and 1983 according to the register. Unfortunately, we couldn't add our names as the paper was soaking wet. Two rappels brought us back to the base.

 

Every hold on this climb should be considered suspect. While belaying, no matter where I stood, I was dodging nasty rockfall the whole time, with one rock barely whizzing by my face. All protection should also be considered suspect, with our only truly bomber placements being a piton and one large hex. The second pitch was basically unprotectable after 50 feet. Not a big deal for a 5.3 climb right? Well, we both agreed that it was much closer to 5.6-5.7 than 5.3.....definitely hardman rated.

 

We decided to take the normal route down which in hindsight was a terrible idea. I have never seen so much devils club in one place, with some of it growing up to 9 feet tall. The entire descent was tarzan style using 'green rope'. The last 3 hours were full-on bushwacking by headlamp. I'm currently covered in small cuts from the devils club and blackberry bushes as well as plenty of bug bites. I think I swallowed/inhaled at least a couple dozen mosquitoes.

 

A broken camera, a half broken body, and 16 hours later, we were back at the car. I'll try to retrieve my pictures....maybe Terry can post his soon.

 

Gear Notes:

We brought a full rock rack (including pitons) and 2 twin ropes. We ended up placing a couple of good hexes, 3 cams (BD C4 camalot #1 and 2 were the best sizes), and made 2 good piton placements. The Rappel from the tree at top requires a two rope rappel. There is no easy way to rappel without 2 ropes. Heavy leather gloves should be considered MANDATORY for the devils club descent.

 

Approach Notes:

We forded the Hamma Hamma River right across from black wall and went up the gulley directly in front of us. This is NOT listed in the guidebook as an approach route. We descended the typical guidebook route which was MUCH worse bushwacking through the worst devils club I have ever seen.

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Great stuff! thumbs_up.gif

 

Esp: "This peak was climbed in 1958, 1977, and 1983 according to the register. " Got any photos?

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Wow, two real Olympic climbers, men who forge through devils club to reach loose Olympic basalt.

 

Here is something written by John Myers that was published in the Northwest Mountaineering Journal:

"With the Olympic Mountains in our Bremerton backyard it is understandable that we would spend our time climbing and exploring in them. Climbers from other parts of the Northwest may understand the attraction of close proximity, but question the quality of technical climbing to be found here. For us, trips into the Olympics have nearly always entailed disproportionate time fighting underbrush and route-finding to reach marginal quality climbing terrain, reason, perhaps, that Olympic climbers remain a small, dedicated group. The Cascades do not lack in bushwhacks. Indeed, tales abound of epic forays through thick jungle as the price of admission to some choice granite wall. So why do the brush-apes of the Olympic Peninsula throw themselves into the tangle of primordial vegetation for the opportunity to ascend crumbling basalt?"

 

So did Randy and Terry "decide once again to put this question the test" with a simple death march up Tran spire.

 

 

:rawk::brew::rawk::pagetop::rocken:

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Great stuff! thumbs_up.gif

 

Esp: "This peak was climbed in 1958, 1977, and 1983 according to the register. " Got any photos?

 

I broke my camera on the descent, but if I can find someone with a card reader, I should be able to retrieve the photos. I have a couple good closeups of the lower half of the route. Terry took a bunch of pictures that he should be posting. He also got a few good pics of the many interesting spires on Jefferson Ridge (still unclimbed?).

 

I didn't take any pictures of the summit register. The pages were hard enough to decipher in person because the paper was sopping wet and desintegrating. From our research prior to the climb, we were quite shocked that it had been climbed after the FA in 1958. In reading the summit register, it sounds like a story between parties. The second(?) ascent in '77 appeared to be in dedication to one of the members of the first ascent party (mentions of him being on the highest mountain "up there"). The third(?) ascent in 1983 mentions climbing the peak to see a message left by the '77 team ("it took me this long to finally see the message you left me"). One of the parties (can't remember which) mentions that after all this time and finally making it up the peak, they would never be coming up again (as if that's a good advertisement for this climb).

 

 

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Pictures as promised:

 

After contemplating the pictures, I'm almost sure that this is Tran from the road. It is the double summit on the left side of the huge rock outcropping.

tran1.jpg

 

Here is a picture of the climbing route:

tran2.jpg

 

A nice view of the sawtooths on the way out:

tran3.jpg

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This picture is a good representation of the strange conglomerate nature of the rock down low:

tran4.jpg

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Randy, your TR did a nice job informing us what "transpired" up there last Thursday. Indeed, the dust has been cleared off another obscure Olympic summit. Excellent work on the crumbly stuff fellas. Nice photo of Sawtooth Ridge Terry. And thanks too, another 25 years can pass until someone else should feel any need to climb Tran again!

 

John

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Those were the pictures that I rescued off of my camera. I hope Terry posts his up here too, because I think he has some good ones. That sunset was pretty amazing over the sawtooths.

 

Good call John on the recommendation for pitons. I think the addition of a lost arrow and a knifeblade MIGHT have made the upper portion protectable. After that climb, I'm inclined to add the largest size Big Bro to my rack.

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Hey guys sorry it took so long for me to get some more pitcures out there. I will just throw out a few more, it looks like Randy has covered the bases pretty well.

 

IMG_1091.JPG

Picture of the Hamma Hamma climbing wall seem from the approach.

 

IMG_1096.JPG

Randy starting the Schwak!

 

IMG_1105.JPG

Continuation of the Schwak!

 

IMG_1119.JPG

Jefferson from the first belay.

 

IMG_1154.JPG

Randy and I after another epic climb.

 

Even those pictures don't do that Schwak justice. Make sure you bring some heavy gloves if you want to repeat. Better yet don't go unless the gullys are choked with snow!

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