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best of cc.com [TR] Meulefire and Indecision - East Face 8/2/2008

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Trip: Meulefire and Indecision - East Face


Date: 8/2/2008


Trip Report:

It has long been a goal, nay, a lifetime dream of mine to climb every peak in the Repulsive 69. To those not in the know, the Repulsive 69 is a list of the sixty-nine most obscure and unappealing peaks in the Cascades. Inclusion in any “Selected” or “Classic” guidebook is an automatic disqualifier for this list. No one has completed the Repulsive 69, as two of its peaks are as yet unclimbed. As far as the race for completion goes, Dallas (aka Obi Wan) has a comfortable lead with sixty some odd. Scott (aka The Moat Master) is a distant second with twenty-twoish. I am unsure of the exact number, he keeps his count secret. Jason (aka Snaffle Bait) is in the running with nineteen. I am trailing the pack with a measly fifteen. Jill (aka Dr. Jill) has climbed twelve, but she has a lot of spare time and could easily catch me. I needed a few of the grand boys ticked this weekend to pad my lead over Jill and gain on Scott.

I pulled out the cell phone and started calling prospective climbing partners. What would it be this weekend? Seapho Peak? Berge Mountain? Canadian Border Peak? Or the ever-elusive South Hozomeen? Damn caller ID. Ever since I set my sights on completing this list, most of my regular partners won’t answer the phone anymore. Just when I was ready to give up, the phone rang. Caller ID listed Scott. “Wanna go climbing this weekend?” he asked. “What, couldn’t find anyone else?” I retorted. “Shut up and be at my house at seven AM, and make sure that you are not followed”, was the answer. “Where are we going?” I inquired. “I’ll tell you on the way. I have an FA route scouted on one of the 69”.

An FA on one of the 69! This would be our golden ticket to Cascade mountaineering history! I could hardly contain myself. I arrived bright and early at Scott’s place packed to the gills and ready for anything. “Lose the rock shoes.” he said. What was I thinking? This was one of the Repulsive 69, not exactly known for their quality rock. Once out of cell range, he finally revealed the objectives, Meulefire and Indecision, with the added possibility of Little Johannesburg or Repulse! This would be an epic weekend indeed!



Fisher Basin



The approach to Silent Lakes



Silent Lakes. Muelefire in the background.


After a quick march over Easy Pass and up Fisher Basin to the Silent Lakes, we dropped our packs and ran up Fisher Peak. To enjoyable for inclusion in our list! The next day we set out for the crown jewels of Grizzly Basin, Indecision and Meulefire. We summited Arriva to check out our prospective route, the North Ridge on Meulefire, and said hi to Mr. C. on the summit. The ridge looked good, but getting on it looked difficult. Too many gendarmes and notches. Well, we would have to get this mighty one via the dog route.



The North Ridge on Muelefire


After traversing down heather slopes to Grizzly Basin, the real business on Meulefire began. We started climbing what quickly became fourth-class scorist. For the uninitiated, scorist is a combination of forest and blocky scree that is common on sub-alpine slopes in the Cascades. Scorist has ratings from class one to class five, and further gradations reaching 5.9. The rating system is quite similar to the commonly used YDS. I watched Scott pull a figure eight over a u-shaped fir tree, spraying needles everywhere. “Nice move!” I yelled. After the scorist, we emerged to a seemingly never ending field of steep heather interspersed with steps of unusually shattered rock balanced precariously at their angle of max repose.



Scorist attained


We finally reached the summit ridge and followed to a notch just NE of the summit. Beckey says one lead of 5.2 to the summit. Who needs rock shoes for 5.2? And what exactly is 5.2? Well, in exploring my low fifth-class boundaries, my grade-inflated head was certainly wishing for some sticky rubber! The next 30 meters were enjoyable climbing on surprisingly solid rock! I guess that it can’t all be bad. We topped out and looked over at Indecision. To our untrained eyes, the summits looked to be the same height. A ten-minute scramble took us to the top of Indecision. The last entry in the summit log was from Roger Jung, on a solo traverse from Fisher in 2003.



The author contemplates 5.2



The summit of Muelefire. Another tick!


Joe and Joan Firey and John and Irene Meulemans made the first ascent of Meulefire in July of 1966. However, Indecision, the higher peak according to Beckey, was not climbed until 1972. The question arises, why didn’t the Firey and Meulemans crew, who were prodigious peak baggers and FAers in their day, climb both peaks when the other summit was only ten minutes away? Beckey’s guide lists Meulefire as a lower sub-summit of Indecision massif. Perhaps this is comeuppance for the Fireys and Meulemans, who nabbed the first ascent of Arriva the day prior in 1966, when Beckey and crew had climbed the slightly lower East Peak in 1940.

After a rap off the summit, and an interminable steep scree, slab, and heather down climb, we got lucky and rapped through the scorist to Grizzly Basin. The next day, unable to recall what the traverse to from Fisher to Repulse looked like, we climbed Fisher again. It would certainly be a coup to pull off on ascent of Repulse, the namesake of the Repulsive 69! The traverse had been done the opposite direction by Roger Jung back in 2003, but it was too involved for us on our last day. Oh well, this is how the ball bounces when you are bagging the big boys. We decided to get Little Johannesburg on the way out.



The second run up Fisher. Black peak and the N Ridge of Repulse in the background.


But like so many of these Repulsive climbs, the mountain had other ideas. On the traverse down to Fisher Basin, Scott slipped and took out a chunk of his palm on a talus block. We limped our way back over Easy Pass under the scornful gaze of Little Johannesburg and to the car for some warm beer. Little Johannesburg patiently awaits our eventual return and conquest. Another two of the proud giants vanquished, and my list closer to completion!



Graybeard. A worthy peak but it made Nelson's book.



There will be blood



The price paid


Gear Notes:

Forget the rock shoes, eye protection (for scorist), first aid kit.


Approach Notes:

Over Easy pass, hang a left up to Fisher Basin, take obvious gully up to col, good camping at Silent Lakes.

Edited by Trent

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Nice TR on two obscure, but worthwhile peaks!


There is actually a much faster way in there which probably saves 3000+' of elevation gain and several miles of trail walking, which would be good to remember when you go in to climb Repulse. The basin E of Fisher is an easy cross-country jaunt from HWY 20. Going in this way, our party was able to go in and tuck away Fisher and Arriva in an average day from the HWY. We were on the summit of Fisher in less than 3.5 hours from HWY 20. We also climbed Repulse this way, which took a little more doing, but much more manageable than a traverse from Fisher.

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You know, if you keep posting these 'Repulsive' TR's these peaks will lose their 'repulsivity' character. Just a word to the wise.


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Hey Trent,


I'd be interested in seeing this list of Repulsive 69. If you don't want to share it with the world, maybe you could send it to me via PM. I promise not to divulge it.


Is Martin Peak by Bonanza one of those 69?



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Looks like Little Johannesburg(aka arches) to me. Probably taken from the trail down to fisher creek.

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You, if anyone should know that Martin Peak, (adjacent to Bonanza peak) is an "official" Top 100. Many years ago I didn't find it to be too chossy, and certainly quite straightforward from Holden Pass.


My congrats on your recent completion of said 100, etc.

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I only ask about Martin Peak because Trent and I crossed paths high up on it in early July.


I am also quite sure that's a picture of Little J-berg's NE Face.

Edit: Not. I take that back. It is Graybeard.

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Sweet tr, you truly are a garbage can for obscure, marathon grinder climbs!! I do however share your appreciation for pure scorest lines! Call me when you are ready to climb near the road!

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