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shannonpahl

beta request - Pinnacle peak, winter ascent

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Does anyone have any beta on Pinnacle peak east ridge and/or north ridge? (winter ascents). Which route would you choose (and why?). have you done both? I've been scoping out the east ridge but have recently heard that the north ridge is also quite a good climb. (here is a pic of the east ridge taken this last week-end http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/6FTnbVoSfM-eqk1HW_V_pQ?feat=directlink)

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Jason Martin and I attempted the North Ridge a number of years back. We found good ice leading to the summit horn then bare, compact rock that did not take pro well. KBs or Bugaboos may have worked, but I don't think we had any. We backed off at that point.

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I've done the North Ridge 3 times and found it great all three times -twice with more wintery conditions and once in the Spring when it was loaded up with large cornices but the rock was relatively bare and we did not use crampons at all. There is a short steep section on the third pitch where you climb a steep face right on the ridge almost like a gendarme. I'm guessing this might be where Jason and Dan bailed. I've protected here with pitons and stubby ice screws and tied off flakes; it wouldn't be a good place to fall but the difficulties are over in something like 30 to 40 feet and security comes sooner than you expect as you look up from below (it has been fifteen years since I've done this climb so my memory is slightly dim and I did bail from this point on one attempt but on that occasion my partner had been trying to bail as soon as we left the car so I attribute the bailage to an overall lack of momentum).

 

In the picasa photo linked above, what I'm calling the second pitch of the N. Ridge is probably where you climb a steep gully left of a vertical tower that I think appears where the right skyline leaves the frame (I didn't count what can be slightly tricky topping out on the access gully as a pitch, though I've belayed it and used gear there). My guess (above) was that Dan and Jason bailed on the next step, just above the horizon in that picasa photo. Higher on the route we traversed well onto the NE Face for some reason on the first time I climbed the route but I didn't see any reason to do this on subsequent climbs.

 

I said on another thread that the North Ridge is a "moderate" climb but it is certainly much more serious than the uber-classics on Chair Peak or those on Lane Peak nearby. It is definitely technical and exposed where technical, and you have to be able to lead somewhat unprotected climbing but the difficulties come in short bursts and it has good belays so if you break it up into short pitches the whole thing is rather manageable. It is an exciting climb for being so easy to access and relatively short overall.

 

Fred's guide does not list the history, but I was recommended this climb by Willi Unsoeld back in the 1970's and I got the distinct impression that he thought of it as a winter classic by that time.

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The climbers in the report you link approached the ridge from the west and Beckey says to approach from the west, but I've always approached from the east. It is a simple gully with a final 25 feet where I have used pro in approaching the notch on one or maybe two of four trips. The west side approach may well be just fine, but I think it involves more climbing on exposed terrain based both on my own initial assessment of the route and on the picture in the report you link; also, return to skis below the west side approach sounds more complex based on the narrative in the report you link.

 

Those folks did not suggest the west side approach was a bad way to go but, if you start on the east side of the ridge, descent from the summit is easily made via a gully to the south and a traverse to the Pinnacle-Castle saddle, then back to skis below the approach gully.

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Thanks. Sounds like the east is a faster approach to the real fun. I was hoping to do it this week-end but it did not come together. I hope to do it soon while its still in winter conditions and I'll send a detailed TR when I get it done.

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Tried the NR last week-end. There was lots of deep unconsolidated soft snow. We wallowed up the couloir but bailed once we reached the ridge - the gulley on the left of the gendarme would be dangerous in these snow conditions. If it was much colder and solid snow/ice, it would make a fantastic climb. Instead, we bailed and did the east ridge. Will need to try again in better conditions.

 

http://picasaweb.google.com/shannonpahl/PinnaclePeak

 

 

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