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[TR] Joahnnesburg - East Route 8/15/2008


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Trip: Joahnnesburg - East Route


Date: 8/15/2008


Trip Report:

Dates: August 15-17, 2008


Climbers: Juan L. and Dave C. (Scribe)


Photos: by Juan L., except for photo of Mixup Peak and “Doug’s Direct” route from Mt. Booker taken by Dave C.




We considered a variety of different routes and approaches before settling on the East Route via “Doug’s Direct” approach. We eliminated the Southeast Arete with an approach using the “trail” up the Middle Fork of the Cascade River due to a the forest fire which ravaged the valley in August 2003 followed by flood damage in October 2003. We also considered using Gunsight Notch on the south side of Mixup Peak as an approach, but reckoned we would probably have to contend with moat along with more side hilling than “Doug’s Direct” approach.


August 15


Departed the Cascade Pass trail head around 11AM, passing the usual hordes of hikers on their way to Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm. We left the masses of humanity at Cascade Pass as we headed south towards Cache Glacier. After clearing Mixup Arm we rounded a spur and hung a sharp right on the glacier ascending to a rock rib at about 6,700ft. Initially we scrambled up easy terrain. Glancing towards our left we noticed a nasty moat beneath Gunsight Notch. At about 7,000 feet the terrain steepened and turned into down sloping class 3 slabs. Be breached the north ridge of Mixup Peak at 7,300 plus feet and had our first views of the east route of Joahnnesburg along with steep descent of the east slopes towards the Cascade- Johannesburg Col. We carefully down climbed loose rock and then steep heather eventually clearing the toe of buttress on the south side of the Triplets at 6,000. At a little after 4 PM we arrived at a reasonable bivy spot at 6,300 ft, on heather next to a supply of running water. While descending we spotted a cinnamon colored bear foraging below us, which did not notice us because we were downwind. In the evening Juan and I pasted the time observing the bear, which was later challenged by a black colored bear for grazing rights. The interloper was sent packing by the cinnamon hued bear. After supper we ascended to the Cascade-Johannesburg Col to reconnoiter our route options. We settled on beginning the route at the Col, allowing us an easy transition from snow to rock. There was a granite staircase a couple hundred feet beneath the Col, but we would have to breach a moat via a collapsed snow bridge. I ventured a glance down the Cascade-Joahnnesburg Couloir, which in the current conditions would be a suicide pact as an ascent or descent route. As the sun set, the angle of the light made the aftermath of the forest fires in the north slopes of Formidable and south slopes of Joahannesburg obvious. A full moon arose over Spider Mountain around 8:30 PM, making a headlamp unnecessary for the frequent pee runs.


August 16


The weather forecast called for afternoon pyrotechnics so we were determined to get an early start. Shortly after departing camp at 5:15 AM we donned our crampons to ascend the snowfield to the Col. We harnessed up at the Col and I lead a couple hundred feet of class 3 scrambling, placing the only piece of rock protection we used on the whole route. After reeling Juan in at a comfortable spot on a ledge, I lathered up on jungle juice to ward off the mosquitoes who had been feasting on my flesh. The terrain backed off and in a couple of hundred feet we reached a bivy spot on boulder field, where we left behind our crampons. The ice axes came in handy ascending the steep heather above us. We climbed a series of rock gullies and ribs veering to the left a rock tower, topping out on the false summit at about 8,000 ft. We rolled off the south side of the summit ridge, traversing along a goat path generally about 100 ft beneath the ridge line. There were a couple of nasty gullies along the way which looked difficult to negotiate from at distance but were passable. Right beneath the summit block we cleared the last of these gullies near the ridgeline. We quickly polished off the remaining elevation to summit arriving at 9 AM. The weather was not threatening, so we lounged on the summit for an hour, transcribing what names we could read from the severely water damaged summit register onto water proof paper that Juan donated.


We retraced our route back to the false summit, at times blindly groping for hand and footholds caused by the shadows of the ascending sun directly in our faces. From the false summit we did a series of raps (6 or 7) intermixed with down climbing. We breathed a collective sigh of relief as our boots touched the soft snow at the Col. We motored down the snowfield reaching our bivy spot around 2:30 PM. Rather than bust our chops ascending the steep terrain up and over the north ridge of Mixup in the hot afternoon sun, we decided to reward ourselves by lounging around and watching the cinnamon colored bear fatten up on blueberries – from a distance.


August 17th


The electrical storms never materialized the previous day. We decided we would sleep in until 6 or 7 AM. The skies were still clear at 2:30 AM when I answered nature’s call. However thunder and lightening to the south of Formidable was our wake up call at 5 AM. We quickly ate and packed, motivated to clear the steep terrain of “Doug’s Direct” route before it became wet and slick or we became a lightening rod. Intermittent sprinkles refreshed us as we trudged up the vegetation. In the back of my mind I thought about stumbling upon the cinnamon colored bear sleeping in the waist high foliage. Along the way we silently moved past two large imprints in vegetation where the bear had rested. We temporarily relaxed when we topped ridge, thankful the storm had passed off to the south. We carefully descended the down sloping class 3 slabs with loose rock for 300 feet to more comfortable slopes. From the Cache Glacier we put it into overdrive arriving back at the trailhead around 10 AM.




When we signed out at the ranger station in Marblemount, a ranger wanted to know if we had seen a climbing party making a nighttime climb of the NE rib of Johannesburg under a full moon. We told them we hadn’t. With the steep north slopes of Johannesburg they wouldn’t benefit from the full moon, which was low on the horizon, until they darn near reached the top. I hope they brought plenty of batteries for their headlamps.


Photos can be found at the following link.




Gear Notes:

Bring a minimum of eight double slings. Depending on your skill and tolerance for down climbing steep, exposed, class 3 terrain you will do numerous raps. We brought eight double slings and used them all, because several of the rap stations we large blocks requiring two double slings

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We brought one 60M rope. We did three consecutive raps at one point during our decent and the existing raps stations we found were spaced out such that a 60M rope worked just fine.


We would downclimb for a stretch then do another rap. Again the number of raps will depend upon ones tolerance for downclimbing exposed class 3 terrain.

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"5.4" = 5.8 X


it wasn't an X when i did it, but then maybe all the rock that i was holding up that one nut has flaked away now? :)


it's actually a really interesting rock formation there at the chimney - some kind of delicate, shiny patina of rock that contacted the underlying gneiss and has mostly flaked off now

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i seem to recall the belayer could actually get into a cave just above the infamous chimney while belaying the next pitch above - a good thing too, since you're right, it's stupid chossy - still, what a fantastic route, eh? the setting is just spectacular...

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