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Hayley Sierra

[TR] Mt. Buckner - North Face 6/28/2009

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Trip: Mt. Buckner - North Face


Date: 6/28/2009


Trip Report:

Mt Buckner – North Face


My sister and I have kept up the tradition of setting aside one trip each year to climb something both remote and challenging, testing our skills and developing some new ones. The north face route of Mt. Buckner (9080 ft) was chosen for Sisters Trip 2009!


The long route involved several obstacles:

1) Ascend Sahale arm and climb up and over Sahale Peak

2) Traverse around/over the false summit of Boston Peak

3) Descend the Boston Glacier to the base of the route

4) Climb the north face of Buckner!

5) Traverse the long Horseshoe Basin back to the Sahale ridge

6) Ascend to Sahale glacier camp

7) Hike out via Cascade Pass


We chose the carry over option so that we could bivy essentially anywhere en route and make sure we were prepared for any emergencies.


In true Sisters Trip style, we set out at 10:30 pm to complete the first leg of our long journey—the 5 mile hike to Cascade Pass. We woke the next morning to some wonderful views:



We set off at 7 am and reached the base of Sahale Peak at 10:15 am. A single pitch of 4th-low 5th class climbing up the face (in plastic mountaineering boots and overnight packs—nice lead Val!) got us to the summit at 11 am.


Sahale Peak from the arm:



Summit rock pitch:




We then rappelled off the summit and traversed the heavily corniced ridge down to the Boston-Sahale col. There we met up with another party of two destined for the north face. They approached via Boston Basin, the other commonly used route.



Traversing the chossy Boston ledges:



We then descended the Boston Glacier to a flat area near Ripsaw Ridge. Arriving at this location at 3 pm, we toyed with the idea of climbing the route that afternoon and bivying on the summit ridge, but decided to wait until the next morning, hoping for firm snow and equally good weather.


Camp on the Boston Glacier:



We awoke at 5:30 am in white-out conditions. Crap. We decided to give it a go and hope the weather would clear. We left for the summit at 6:15 am.



As we approached the face, the clouds burned off, and we got a good look at the route up close. Valerie led the lower section of the route, negotiating an interesting snowbridge and debris chute to gain the upper slopes.



I then followed:



On the upper slope it was my turn to lead. We placed pickets every rope length with a running belay, and soon we were near the summit ridge. Val led one more short section past me, and then it was just an easy class 3 scramble to the top.


The final pitch:






It took us about 3 hours to climb from the base of the route, topping out at 10 am in full sun. We then began the grueling descent across Horseshoe Basin. We carefully downclimbed the steep slopes directly below the summit ridge, then traversed to the base of the ridge leading off of Sahale. It took nearly 3 hours to reach this point, with a couple rest breaks along the way.


Looking back at Buckner:



We checked out the snow filled gully leading on top of the ridge, but weren’t sure about the exit onto the rocks above. We therefore decided to descend further to the base of the ridge and then climb steep snow slopes approx 1000 ft to reach the Sahale Glacier camp. This was quite a tall order by that point in our trip, but we safely reached the camp in about 1 hour.




Finally, the long descent back to the car. At least we didn’t have to hike the road this time!!!


This was an excellent trip all around. Conditions on the route that morning were perfect, the weather cooperated, and it was very enjoyable, solid climbing on the face. Another great Sisters Trip!



Gear Notes:

9.4 mm X 60 m rope

4 pickets

two ice tools


small rock rack (0.3-1 BD cams, set of nuts) for Sahale face



Approach Notes:

Cascade river road is open!


Trail is snow free for the first 6 miles (to Sahale arm).


Running water is available on Sahale arm, then none until Horseshoe Basin, so bring fuel to melt snow.

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Hi Gals--great TR. I ran into you as you were getting ready to head up TH to BB on friday night. Trail was a bit narly with new debris...Cascade Pass was probably much better choice in the dark. Nice job!

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Nice Job. I attempted that route 3 years ago with my partner who has since passed on. We also enjoyed our trip out there Memorial day weekend doing the Forbidden tour. Good to see you guys then and good to see you on GNS a couple of weeks ago. Have a great season.

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