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[TR] Graybeard - North Face 4/25/2009

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Trip: Graybeard - North Face

 

Date: 4/25/2009

 

Trip Report:

Kevin Hogan and I headed up Friday afternoon for the ceremonial gate opening of the N Cascades HW. After killing sometime in Marblemount chatting with Civil War re-enacters about the intricacies involved in fragging Yanks we drove up and found a building waiting line at the gate. Leading the charge was Tootsie, who for the last 20+ years has been giving out cinnamon rolls and coffee to anxious East-bounders. We picked up our raisin-loaded rolls while she says that I "look like the mean one. You need something sweet"... Tootsie is a sweet lady but luckily all I got was the roll.

 

...

 

Gates open a little before 8pm and we roll to the Easy Pass TH pulloff. Just under freezing temps, snow down low is firm and consolidated... conditions look good, face looks good, morale and excitement rise.

We use the remaining daylight to find the bridge over Granite and then head back to enjoy chilling views of the face before going in for the night.

 

...

 

Started off at 3:40am, uneventful snowshoeing up the creek, got to the base a little before 5, geared up, stashed gear, probably started up around 5:30.

 

First ice pitch was fat and blue WI2, snow ramp was firm snow, then the next ice band was sort off not much there.

We found this left trending rock ramp traverse that Kevin excitedly took and deemed it M3ish... a few moves were pretty spicy. From there we headed up the ice band up the middle which was a little steeper and longer than it seemed from afar - AI3? Headed straight up toward the crux ice pitch, which we broke into 2- The first part longer and runout with steeper sections and the second, which was about 2 body lengths of vertical ice (yes, 90 degrees), tapering off towards the top - AI4. Up to this point we were regularly being showered with surface sluff slides, making it all that much more fun and picturesque climbing.

 

...

 

From this point on the face the climbing stopped being as straightforward or fast... and fun? Nah. We had figured that previous warm days would've consolidated snow on the mountain. Well, from the last ice pitch on up the snow was mostly loose and unconsolidated, being held onto the slope by a 2" solid top layer. Repeatedly we found areas where we'd ascend only a few feet a minute if that, hopelessly kicking deeper into the face to try to find some snow that would hold. Axe plunges were worthless at this point. Loosing your feet was a scary probability. The order of the game was axe on one hand, picket on the other for pulling yourself up the loosest of the loose - this worked very well and saved a lot of time on the upper pitches. Protection was sparse/non-existant/poor, or just too hard to get to during pitches unless you spent some time chipping at hidden and iced rocks hoping it would show some weakness, probably only to find that it crumbled under your gear and you wasted all that time, now only having to run it out some more while your partner at first wondering and then yelling "WTF are you doing up there?!".

 

The last 5 stretched out pitches we tried building the best anchors we could at belays and then the lead would basically runout the pitch... eventually with the 2nd unclipping and simulling until the next good anchor could be found. For some reason picture-taking pretty much ceased at that point.

 

Other than for use as essential climbing tools, pickets were worthless as pro on the snows of the upper mountain unless you dug very deep.

 

...

 

With a good early start and moving efficiently down low I figured we'd top out... 12-2pm. Well, we finally topped out on the ridge at 5pm, having been on the face for almost 12hrs. On the route we picked we avoided any cornice tunneling, instead finding a steep (with occasional 80+ snow steps) snow ramp. With one last picket plunge, I pulled up and onto the ridge. We had a quick celebration and headed up towards the summit with our minds on the descent.

 

We decided on going down through Easy Pass, probably because of the inviting name. Finding the South gully was easy, walking down it was easy, the temporary whiteout was annoying... but easy, the long traverse was long and tedious but easy. Took some time, but it was pretty easy indeed. We were back at the base ~7, back at the car 8pm.

 

...

 

The route is just stellar and delivered the full-on alpine experience we expected to get from it. We were mentally exhausted, but fulfilled. After the climb we told each other we didn't need to do that route again... maybe I just have a bad memory, but I'd probably do it again if persuaded.

 

.......

 

Kitty enjoys a balanced meal of milkshake and screws with ketchup.

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Kevin trains crushing mole hills in preparation for mountains.

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Tootsie hands out sugar-drenched rolls.

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...the waiting is the hardest part

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Bloody faces and Graybeard TRs seem to go together.

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route3.jpg

 

http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/showphoto.php?photo=45472&cat=500&ppuser=15545

 

Gear Notes:

3 pins, 6 screws, 2 pickets, nuts, 2 tricams, and 4 cams - used most all. We sunk the pink good higher up and couldn't get it out... it's yours to booty.

 

Approach Notes:

Firmish snow all the way, snowshoes made it more efficient and enjoyable. Granite creek bridge is still there.

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Glad to see someone got on it this weekend. Nicely done, and thanks for relaying the info...

 

Cheers, N

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I remember googling this route for some information and not gettin any results cuz I wrote 'Greybeard' instead of 'Graybeard'.... it's a Canadian thing.

 

Anyhow, geat job! Looks like a nice route.... I would like to try it but right now I'm fully enjoying cragging in the sun and getting burnt like a lobster... all that snow looks cold!

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that route is a lot more commiting and longer that it appears! nice job on the free rolls!

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Brief thread highjack

 

Doug, did you climb the DC route on Rainier last summer, I think around mid-August and run it to two guys who said they would email you pictures they had of you? And then never did (atleast I didn't), if so I am one of those inconsiderate jerks, and will get you the few pics I took of you.

 

By the way, great work on the climb!

 

bvl

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bvl, I remember!

We were above the DC, prob at around 13K when we met you guys and you/your partner said "I just took a really cool picture of you guys".

No worries... but yeah, if you still have those pictures that would be cool

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The Hoagmeister is indeed a hella badassssss.

He insisted on accompanying me on my solo ascent of Aconcagua's South Wall, so I let him. I made it to about 120' and my chopper sheared the tail rotor, so Hogan carried me to the summit on his back...

BTW, Rosemary said "hello, badasssss."

 

(sorry about the misfire, Kev. Understand totally)

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russ youre a mess"chopper sheared a tail rotor " im pissing myself with laughter. hello rose!!!

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