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[TR] Northwest Face of Mount Snoqualmie- photo essay -Direct, Pineapple Express, 2nd ascent 2/19/2009


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Trip: Northwest Face of Mtn Snoqualmie- photo essay - direct variation, Pineapple Express, 2nd ascent of "Blue Moon"


Date: 2/19/2009


Trip Report:

The view from high on Phantom Slide going in.



The scene of the crime. Pineapple Express in orange.,





Craig's photo. Wayne and Craig's 2 pitch, direct variation, Blue Moon marked on the full line of PE



The Blue Moon variation should be obvious in both pictures. And more direct than either line topo suggests. The ice hose and chimney pitches are just left of the smaller rock head walls and just right of the orange topo @ mid height. The obvious ice hose dissappears into the chimney in Cauthorn's picture. From that '05 picture I have to assume the line is generally there and "in".


First pitch snice



For the most part the entire route was solid sticks in snice with a good water ice base.







The money pitches on Blue Moon are #2 the ice hose and #3 the amazing Scottish chimney.


This comment from Craig aka Alpinemonkey on Blue Moon's first ascent":


"I didn't lead our second pitch that may have been the crux, but it had about 3 moves off the deck that were a little thin and hard. After that it seemed sort of like moderate thin ice/dirt climbing, a little run out, but not unreasonable."


Pretty sustained pitch, thin ice on the bottom, with a hand crack in the corner mid pitch that will get the attention of most. Big Cams in hidden placements made the run outs resonable. Much steeper than it first appears. But, hey, the landing looks good :)

























The 3rd pitch starts from a physically tight belay (fixed stopper) inside a deep, 3' wide chimney. The leader will be dropping EVERYTHING that comes off down on you. On our ascent I could not turn side ways because of our (small) pack, couldn't see and was swimming in snow. I had the wind knocked out of me by a big piece of ice I unknowingly took full in the chest. It is a short crux right off, on a 60m pitch but awesome position, spectacular visuals and hard climbing. This was the crux of the climb for us @ M5/6 with perfect dry tooling to get to the chockstone, and then ice, to get on to the chock stone, (FP just below it). Thankfully ice at your back and over the top in there, it was weird and way fun. Awesome pro. You exit the chimney onto steep tree climbing and end on a fairly flat bench with fair size trees for a belay.












Bit cold and miserable at times.



Pretty much simul climbing to NY gully from there for us.

Last pitch of NY Gully has a bit of a sting in snow and big gloves.






Entrance to NY gully.



Camera failed here from the cold, so no pics of Jens, again leading in fine style and me floundering about with the pack. But it looked a lot like this pic of Marko's from a few days earlier.





These two pics are of the last bit after the crux of NY gully.






Jens Klubberud and I did the climb in 7hr 15min from rope up at the base of the gully to the exit on the ridge, Feb. 18. 4 to 6" of new snow on the ground in the Phantom slide and it snowed most of the day on us, enough to get small spindrift avis on the first 3 pitches.


A proud line and fine climb! Excellent position and a few stellar sections. In places you start to get a real, big north wall, feel. I'll admit it was no dissappointment when the climbing eased after the first 600 feet.


Blue Moon a 2 pitch direct variation of Pineapple Express IV WI4 R M6 5.8


Blue Moon variation of PE

Pitch 1 - 60 meters WI 3

Pitch 2 - 60 meters thin and delicate WI4 new

Pitch 3 - 60 meters, ungraceful chimney but short M5/6-new

Next - bunch of simul climbing

Pitch 4 - step off into NY Gully and climb to corner crack

Pitch 5 - Corner crux of NY gully 5.8 M4

Final- easy but exposed traverse to the ridge




The original ascent account of Pineapple Express.


"On February 9, 2005, Roger Strong and I climbed a new route up the longest portion of the Northwest Face of Mount Snoqualmie. We approached from the Alpental parking lot, ascended the Phantom Slide to the northwestern shoulder of Snoqualmie, dropped into the Thunder Creek drainage, and then traversed beneath the New York Gully area to the lowest toe of the rock buttress. The first pitch started just left of the lowest point of rock and climbed a thin slab of ice hidden in a long right-facing corner (WI3+ R). After this pitch we trended up and left, pulling steep heather into a mixed gully leading to a tree belay beneath a rock headwall. The superb third pitch climbed the steep right-facing corner to a tree belay (M6 with good gear). Pitch 4 led up and right into snow and trees. The next pitch squeezed through the trees and traversed right to a 5.8 rock step that led up to a tree belay. We then continued up easy mixed ground to a flat ledge beneath the huge headwall that guards the top to the Northwest Face. We then traversed easily along a spectacular ledge system rightward to join the last two pitches of New York Gully. In total, we did nine long 60-meter pitches. For gear, include a couple of thin pitons along with cams to 3” and many slings in the rack. IV M6 5.8 WI3+."





Gear Notes:

Even with all the snice available this year, we placed only one shortie screw on lead. We did however use 2.5 to 3.5 cams in a number of crucial places. There are several fixed pins and now a wired stopper on route. Lots of useful places for a selection of blades or thin lost arrows. Which I suggest we start leaving intentionally as fixed pieces.


Approach Notes:

Park in the Groomer lot facing north. Directly in front of you is Phantom Slide. Head directly up hill entering the trees early on the left (mid height of the first approach slope) and bypassing the water falls and small cliff band which on on your right. Follow the boot pack up the left edge of Phanton slide until you hit a slight steepening on Phanton Slide near the top of Mt Snoqualmie and close to the first obvious big rock spur of the NW face of Snoqualimie. Look closely on your left for some bigger old growth trees, cut left here into a clearing and bench. (300 or 400 yards ) Head straight up again at the left edge of the bench. (200 yards) Hit the ridge at the decent gully. Decent gully is just under the western N face spur of Snoqualmie. Way easier (up and down) than it sounds or looks!

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Craig, I agree, the chimney is an all star favorite from any alpine mixed climbing I have done. Truely amazing position. I'd be out again tomorrow but got "busy work" over the weekend. Mid week anyone?


Conditions are going to be spectacular on that face for awhile short of a huge chinook up past 10K feet.


I'm looking for partners mid week for both NY gully routes and the original line on Pineapple. Kevin?


Photos? Any one interested can get the bigger original jpegs by removing the "sized" from the properties and putting that url into google. Have fun!

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Thanks guys!


I had asked Wayne if they had a name for their variation. They did, Blue Moon, as in "once in a blue moon", describing the obvious stellar conditions found this year on Snoqualimie. I edited my original post to clarify that for the 1st ascent team.


For those interested in such details here is a list I have loosely kept track of. Please correct me if I am in error.


Pineapple Express

1st ascent 2/09/05 Cauthorn/Strong

2nd 3/26/07 Marcus/Amos

3rd 4/03/07 Dirty Harry/Rolf

4th 1/25/09 Ade/Marko

5th BM 1st ascent 2/08/09 Wayne/Craig

6th 2/16/09 Dayland/Alpine Dave

7th BM 2/18/09 Jens/Dane


For those unaware of such things at ten ascents routes are offically down graded to casual tourist status :) Better hurry!


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Awesome trip in great conditions guys!!! Can't wait to quit working and actually get to enjoy awesome winter conditions!


On a side note...


Always enjoy pics of well used old school friends...


Nice "tie-off." Isn't it a lot cheeper to tie off with webbing instead of the rope??? My wallet says ouch, if a guy fell right there off belay.



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Jens and I are a little "old" school 26.gif


Remember climbing is dangerious. This was done by professionals. For your own safety don't attempt this without adult supervision!24.gif



Our "Walter Bonatti" belay is just a a short choke on a half hitch to keep me from falling down the chimney and only took body weight so no issue on the new rope unless I totally screwed up the belay . Tied off soft iron pin looks cool though, hu? The anchor was actually two opposed bomber stoppers. But not a technique I'd recommend, really just did it for fun and a photo op here @ cc.com.


I bought my Friends from Jardin out of the back of his van. That should give you an idea of just how old school we are. Besides that particular # 3 Friend is Jens. 114.gif He likes living on the edge 42.gif Mine are are sewn spectra these days.


If they fit your feet the Sportiva's are good boots. The Batura is easy to walk in and warm. Great choice for the approach on this one. The Batura climbs well and is decent hanging out when it is cold. They were spectacular while belaying in the chimney, buried past my belly button in cold powder snow and unable to move.113.gif

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Today a party was simulclimbing the first pitch of PE. The leader was up through the trees and climbing up the rock step and had both tools blow. He took just short of a full rope length fall all the way from the upper rock band to about 20 feet off the ground of the first pitch. The rope got tangled in the upper trees which prevented him from decking and getting more seriously hurt then he was. Be carefull on these mixed things.

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Today a party was simulclimbing the first pitch of PE. The leader was up through the trees and climbing up the rock step and had both tools blow. He took just short of a full rope length fall all the way from the upper rock band to about 20 feet off the ground of the first pitch. The rope got tangled in the upper trees which prevented him from decking and getting more seriously hurt then he was. Be carefull on these mixed things.


So how'd it go for you guys?

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