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[TR] Mt. Pershing - Route 7 6/27/2009


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Trip: Mt. Pershing - Route 7


Date: 6/27/2009


Trip Report:


Twice, Mt. Pershing has turned me back. In 2004, I attempted the Olympic Climbers’ Guide’s Route 4 with my brother-in-law. It was rough, sketchy, confusing, and brushy. We did not sniff the summit ridge (No, you can’t just “leave the trail and climb SE over scree” as the guide suggests). In 2006, I tried to climb Pershing via the guide’s Route 7, but ran out of time after getting off-route and topping the ridge nowhere near the summit. I stumbled out of the forest just before dark after a thrash through slide alder and devil’s club. These two climbs rank among my most frustrating defeats and roughest wilderness experiences.

With a more detailed map and the new climbers’ guide’s improved route description, I set out Saturday afternoon to take another shot at this peak. I packed for a potential overnight stay.

I set out on the faint climbers’ path that parallels Jefferson Creek around 12:30 p.m. –- about three hours later than I had planned. Route 7 gradually climbs west-northwest away from the creek, crossing an area dominated by huge, mossy boulders, before shooting up the mountain. I followed a northwest bearing up the steep hillside while attempting to follow the intermittent path made by other climbers. Although I used the occasional orange and red flagging as a guide at times, I did not blindly follow it, as flagging had led me astray on my previous solo attempt.

The climb to the 4,300-foot basin described in the climbers’ guide was far easier than I expected, with only minor bushwacking through alder and avalanche debris and only a couple of confusing moments. I hiked steep meadow before ascending the “series of vegetated slabs” described by the guide:




I climbed the left side of this obstacle, though other routes appeared feasible. This Class 3 section was relatively easy thanks in part to my frequent clinging to alpine trees. After arriving at the snowy basin below the south summit, I headed for what I thought was the “obvious snow gully” described by the climbing guide (left side of ridge). I climbed 40-degree snow before scrambling up a short section of loose dirt and scree to a 4th-class step I would need to overcome to top the south ridge. I wondered whether I had chosen the right route. A sling hanging from a nearby tree suggested I was on the right track, so I

headed up the rock. The holds were small and a bit unnerving, but they got me to the ridge-top, where I eyed the summit rocks:




Online and guide book descriptions of the summit ridge had me expecting the worst -- a foot-wide arete with 800-foot drop-offs. As I approached this stretch, though, I realized the arête posed a minor obstacle. The exposure was not nearly as bad as I expected.

The summit Ridge and Mt. Washington (looking back):




An easy scramble of the summit block delivered me to the top.


The ascent took only about 3.5 hours, about two hours less than I expected.


The weather was perfect and the views spectacular:

Washington and Ellinor:




Sawtooth Ridge:




Mt.Stone and Mt. Anderson:




After a half-hour enjoying the summit, I headed down near a cairn placed on the ridge –- north of the route I ascended. This Class 3 path was safer and easier than my route up. Down-climbing the vegetated slabs was tedious and slow. I constantly felt a bit exposed due to the poor hand-holds and loose, down-sloping, vegetated rock beneath me.

After reaching the lower basin, I briefly struggled through slide debris and alder before locating my ascent path and heading down the steep hillside. The straight-forward descent took about 3 hours.

This was a great climb. I will be back.







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Congratulations PVD! As a fellow 2x whipping boy of routefinding on this same mountain I share your former frustration and would like to share your success.


From the upper basin, which chute did you use to access the summit ridge? I was up there about a month ago trying Route 7 and took one that I thought was the "obvious snow gully" to reach the ridge but at the top the way ahead was not evident to me (the ridge traverse looked alot nastier than your picture) and I'm pretty sure I was off-route.


Any good tips on routefinding that top section?

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Thanks, guys.


KBHR, I could email you a photo or post it next week. I don't have it with me now and I'm out of town. The shot shows the way I descended, which I thought would make the best ascent route. I recall that this route would head up some loose rock, then snow, between trees on the left and a tall rock formation on the right.

The way I went up was not the best option. It was on the left side of the upper snowy basin -- the snow finger that appeared to extend nearly to the ridgetop. Its terminus appeared to me to be the low point in the ridge. It was doable, but my descent route was class 3 while the way I went up was class 4 with small holds. I saw slings on both routes, but my down-climb route was pretty easy minus a rope.





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  • 2 weeks later...

Ahhh...a classic Olympic ascent. Have done it twice. Bushwacked both times. Got to get on the high side of the mossy boulders first. There's a climber's path up there earlier than you think. Last time I was there, a section of the lower mountain had just sheared off and had caused a monsterous slide down the westerly basin toward Jeff Creek. Once above that we worked across a couple nice easy snowfields to the aforementioned ridge-y arete and on to the summit. Good job!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The 3rd class route to the summit ridge is easier. However, it isn't easy to spot when you are in the snow basin, as it kind of blends in with the wall. We've found the 4th class route, while slightly longer and slightly harder, offers a fun ridge walk to the summit.


You can avoid the vegetated slabs below the snow basin by going downhill (skier's) left, across a boulder field and then down some green slopes that circles back to the 4300 ft basin below the vegetated slabs. This route also works going up, but isn't as direct.



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