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[TR] Sherpa Peak - Rilikpa (sw face), FA, 5.7/5.8 9/16/2008


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Trip: Sherpa Peak - Rilikpa (sw face), FA, 5.7/5.8


Date: 9/16/2008


Trip Report:

How it got started…


“While waiting at a rap station on the convoluted West Ridge route of Sherpa Peak about a month ago, I thought to myself “There has GOT to be a cleaner, direct way to climb this mountain from the south.” As I descended the West Ridge, I noticed a line of cracks, corners and flakes on what could be called the SW face of Sherpa Peak. I thought it looked like a much more aesthetic and enjoyable way up the mountain from the Ingalls Creek drainage. I brought the idea of the climb up with my buddy Ben Kunz (wbk), and he was stoked to give it a try.” – Tim, aka therunningdog



Sherpa at sunrise from Longs Pass


So Tim (therunningdog) and I climbed, what we are pretty sure, is a new line on Sherpa Peak. A relatively diligent study in the Beckey guide and Cascadeclimbers, and the lichen covered rock and cracks, along with a few breaking holds led us to claim this first ascent.


Here’s the line we climbed (excuse the crappy quality of my line wrecking one of Scurlock’s great photos!):



We left the trailhead at 6:10am on Tuesday morning, hauling ass up and down Long’s Pass, crossed Ingalls Creek, and were in the wide basin below Sherpa by 8am. After a quick water break, we started up through scrubby trees and boulders toward the climb.



Tim on scoring the last available water on the approach!


The approach is the same as per the WR, except that you take a right turn uphill of the obvious tower to the south of Sherpa.

After the right turn, scramble up 150’ of easy class 3 then take a left turn and head up an easy gully a few hundred feet to the base of the route. We left a small cairn at the spot where we roped up.


Shot from the gully


I’ll summarize the climb for those not interested in the details. Basically, Tim and I both believe that this climb is way more fun than the typically climbed West Ridge. It’s a good, moderate climb on great rock (better than the W. Ridge) that takes you to summit via a ridge scramble or the choice to hit up great crack lines up the upper south face. If bothering to haul a rope up Sherpa and aren’t in a great rush, I’d recommend taking this line to the summit over the W. Ridge ascent.


Another shot of the route


Note that we took a half rope and doubled it over because we wanted to haul less weight up and over Longs Pass, etc.. so these pitches are 100ft or less.


For the first pitch, we simul-climbed up blocky terrain - 4th and easy 5th class to a ledge where the face steepened. I won the game of roe-sham-boe, and so got to head up the first belayed pitch.


Pitch 2 heads up relatively easy dihedral flanked with flakes mid fifth climbing up to base of the hand sized crack on the SW face. (5.5/5.6) Approx. 85ft.



Pitch 3 goes straight up the crack, up the face for some interesting face moves up and into a small alcove at the base of chimney. This pitch is really fun and with a few ascents (or if Tim or I go back up there to clean it) will be super clean. Right now, there’s tad too much lichen in the crack. (5.7) Approx. 90 ft.


Tim hanging in the alcove


Pitch 4 poses some interesting, fun moves up a chimney past the overhanging chockstones. From there, I took a straight line up face and crack to the top of this tower (sweet finger crack at the top). One could easily climb around the tower once above the chimney, but I wanted more climbing. If one opts for the straight up/more climbing option, you get a sweet top out move onto the top of this tower. (5.7/5.8) Approx. 90ft.


Tim pulling onto the top of the tower, Stuart in the background


A short boulder (not exposed) downclimb puts you onto a ridge that takes you to the summit, but you are looking directly at this:



From the top of the “south tower” there are several options. The easiest is to climb one more pitch, heading north, to the true summit. However, the south face of the true summit is riddled with interesting crack systems that enticed us…and this is where we headed. After a short downclimb from the south tower, Ben headed up a 5.10-ish looking off-width roof type pitch, but backed off when it became apparent that it would be impossible to protect with our #3 camalot (a #4 would have probably been sufficient).



So, we ended up taking a line a bit further east, and headed up 3 more pitches to the summit ridge. The first two of these pitches were awesome 5.8-ish hand cracks, the second of which finished with an airy traverse to a belay. Once on the summit ridge, it was a short drop down to the north side of the mountain and back up to the true summit.


Tim heading up a great hand crack – truly awesome granite!


Me on the airy traverse


Tim at the summit



Gear Notes:

Medium rack to 3" (4" if you want to do the overhanging wide crack on the upper south face).

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Checked in with Mark Kroese re: 2001 kroese/huster route and after some picture swapping and discussion we are pretty sure our lines are different--at least the bottom three pitches. Mark made a good point in stating that lots of folks have climbed the many of the "south face" cracks that lead to the summit/summit ridge.



These are the "south face" cracks!

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Did you submit this blitzkrieg ascent to the AAJ yet? Way to squeeze in a new line. Despite the increasing numbers of climbers in the Stuart Range, it seems like there are still many many many lines that are waiting to go. Just takes some initiative, moxy, and an above average dongler. I wonder which of the three I have been missing...

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