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[TR] South Hozomeen - SW Route 5/31/2009


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Trip: South Hozomeen - SW Route


Date: 5/31/2009


Trip Report:

Beckey's description sounded easy enough- 14 hour RT with some brush, steep snow, and mostly 4th class rock with a little 5.6. He even said that early season was the best time, and here we had a beautiful weekend at the end of May to play with. It was off to South Hozomeen for Tim, Gord and myself!


After the long but scenic drive from home to Canada and back to the US, we arrived at a mostly empty TH, except for a couple of dayhikers. As we were about to set off, we ran into John Roper and company heading out for a scramble of Little Jackass. They kindly showed us a potential FA on our map, to which Gord replied "that's not our style". Ever the gracious trio, they gave us a little info about the peak, and the standard route. I heard someone say something about a "sketchy" bit, but tried to ignore it.


The mostly mellow and great tread of the first four miles to Hozomeen lake had us thinking we were pretty cool. A quick lunch at the lake with great views didn't hurt either.




But all good things come to an end, and soon we were shwacking around the lake trying to find the "path" in the Beckey guide. Hmmmmmm.




Soon our spirits were lifted at the sight of the "gully" that promised to take us up all the way to the bivy at the col. They weren't lifted very long, though, as we got to a tough bit that stopped us cold. Thrashing climbers right, we found a rib alongside the gully that provided good travel to around 5000', where we traversed back through brush to rejoin the gully.




Great, we thought, it is smooth sailing on snow from here to the col! And it was, for awhile. Then the snow got steeper, and thinner, and the rock slabbier. It wasn't too bad getting to the col, but it wasn't too good either. Tim got hit by rockfall at a very inopportune time (while standing on a slabby exposed ledge above a big drop), but was lucky. We continued upward.




Eventually, after about 7.5 hours, we made it to the 6900'+ foot col between the South and SW peaks and scouted around for a bivy. The sites weren't great, be we were whupped and hungry. We began to suspect that 14 hours wasn't quite going to do it for us.


The next day dawned clear, and we had great views as we scrambled fourth class rock to a high point above the bivy. The North Peak of Hozomeen:




At the top of this point we had a look at the route, and it was pretty disheartening. A VERY exposed downclimb, to a steep snow gully, to a steep snow traverse, to some more 3rd and 4th scrambling, to some rotten steep 5th class stuff near the summit. Yikes! I just about turned around, but Tim was so positive about the adventure ahead that I couldn't bring myself to do it.


Soon, Tim was leading the charge to the summit. He lead the "12 foot 5.6" with style, considering there was absolutely no pro and a nice ledge to fall on. He kept muttering about how this was just like gritstone with a British accent, so at least Gord and I were entertained while we were scared.




So that's how, even though we aren't real skilled, we kept at it long enough to reach the top (about 3 hrs from camp)




I know it is hard to believe, but South Hozomeen isn't climbed very much. The register was placed in 1990, and we were the fifth party to sign in (1990, 1993, 2006, 2007, 2009). Extrapolate that back to the first ascent, and you are maybe talking 20-30 parties?


Of course that is all well and good, but we had to get down for it to really count. The descent back to camp was actually a lot better than we were expecting, with two 30m rappels to get us past the worst of it. I did get bruised by some rockfall, but it could have been a lot worse. There was still plenty of exposed downclimbing though, where a fall would not be good.








We made it back to camp in the early afternoon and packed up, not relishing the bash back down to the lake. At my insistence (I remembered the rockfall from the day before, and my family) we did two 30m rappels from the col down to some steep snow. A bit of messing around on thin snow over slabs had us down in boot skiable terrain pretty quick, and into the brush sooner than we would have liked.




We made it back to the cars about 6:30 pm, pretty tired after a 13 hour day. Our time for the weekend, ~21 hours, certainly not sub-Beckey! So, if you want the full meal deal, South Hozomeen can deliver. Especially if you like things along the lines of the Southern Pickets or J-Berg . . .. you'll have a grand time. Just make sure you say hello to the register, it's lonely.


Gear Notes:

Axe, crampons, 60m half rope, small rack, tat to back up anchors because it is years between ascents.


Approach Notes:

Beckey's description is pretty good, but we avoided the gully for a section that looked darn hard to climb up. On the way down, we mostly avoided the narrow part of the gully and cut the corner to the lake. Quite brushy!

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Nice write up Jason! Another great climb to add to the list!


I am slightly superstitious and refuse to take the harness off until objective danger is completely absent...even if it means getting caught on camera wearing a 'Mountaineer Tuxedo.'


Go get this mountain soon. Even Japhy Ryder can't save you!!


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Mr. Roper forwarded me this excellent photo showing the South (highest peak in the center background) and SW Peaks of Hozomeen along with our approach gully. The col where we bivied is just out of view. Taken from Little Jackass Mountain. Thanks John!




Oh, and here is a photo of the North Peak on the approach. SW buttress is the left skyline. Wow!



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