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[TR] Dome Peak SE Face of SW Peak - Gran Torino FA Mike Layton & Wayne Wallace IV 5.9 7/15/2009


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Trip: Dome Peak SE Face of SW Peak - Gran Torino FA Mike Layton & Wayne Wallace IV 5.9


Date: 7/15/2009


Trip Report:

"Gran Torino" IV 5.9+ 15p. Mike Layton and Wayne Wallace

SE Face of SW Dome Peak




Above photo by John Roper



"Grand" is supposed to read "Gran" and the date is wrong.


Wayne and I established the first route on the 1800' SE face. The position, climbing, protection, and rock quality were truly spectacular.


I first noticed this face on my N.Cascades recon flight with John Scurlock (thanks John!). It looked like one of the biggest unclimbed faces left in the state, but the legnthy approach and unknown rock quality kept it on the to do list for four years. With the grim reality of graduating college after 11 years, and the even harsher reality of needing to work full time and relocating to SLC, I never thought I'd get a change to give it a try. Luckily Wayne and I both got time off and I flew into Seattle late Saturday night. Wayne took a little convincing. This was our plan "B" trip, as plan "A" required a better forcast on the front end.






We quickly scrambled to re-pack and figure out the fastest way in to Dome. With the Downey Creek approach a literal "wash", we think we pegged what will probably become the new approach route to this area.


With prototype 45L Cilogear unwoven dynema packs that clocked in at barely over one pound, ultralight CAMP carabiners, and Feathered Friends one pound custom bags (thank you Cilogear, Feathered Friends, and Pro Mountain Sports), we managed to get 8 days worth of crap in our bags without making them look like a yard sale. Wayne and I seriously geeked out over shaving every possible gram without being dangerously under supplied for weather and emergency.


We took the Lady of the Lake from Fields Point to Stehekin and the Shuttle bus to the High Bridge drop point well after 3pm. (total cost with parking, boat and shuttle = $128 cash ... so bring extra bills for the bakery). We then hiked the Agnes Creek Trail for 9 miles to Spruce Creek Camp. It thundered and rumbled constantly and we finally got fully soaked by the time we pitched our tent. Thankfully the bugs hadn't hatched yet!




The next day we crossed Spruce Creek and hiked for 1/2 a mile off trail until we decided to schwack up the obligatory 3500' hillside. There is a large granite buttress you can see on on the hillside for future FA'ers. From there it is a long traverse to the Spruce-Icy col where we camped again. The gunsight range loomed just above us. This is also the best approach to this range. It could be done in a moderate/heavy day, but the timing on the boat/shuttle kinda forces it to be a two day approach. The best bivy for the gunsight is past this point, however. Continue along the ridge until it turns to kitty litter with the blue glacier bordering it. From here it's only a short ways in.


Day three was the tricky route finding day. We originally planned on traversing over the peaks to up and over Sinister, but after summitting peak 7875 by its east ridge, we realized this was a very bad idea. The contour lines on the map made a low traverse look dangerous, but with careful route finding we picked a way around the S.Face of Sinister (this little cirque would provide a few days of fun 2-5 pitch routes) and into the basin below dome.

The basin required one lead of sketchyness to reach our high camp just below the face.














I should point out that Wayne purchased a flask of Absolute 100 and put it in a platypus. This fire water somehow reacted with the plastic, and created the most awful brew. It tasted like turpentine mixed with poison. We drank it anyway and watched movies on our Ipods. Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood (my favorite movie) was that night's entertainment.


At pre-dawn we cramponed around to the left side of the glacier and hopped on the ramps at the base of the face.




We roped up there and immediately began climbing. We headed for a "tilted block" and climbed a great 5.8 razor layback to offwidth. We pulled an overhang into a layback dihedral and then up a 50' blank chickenhead face. Several pitches of cracks and dihedrals later we moved the belay to the right to get into the major corner system in the center of the face we dubbed the "megadihedral". The corners to get into this megadihedral were five star splitter. Variations before our corner would be excellent as well, and make the route harder above by moving the line slightly left.


The megadihedral didn't offer so much gear so we face climbed on chickenheads and found fun gear on the face. It was incredibly spectacular climbing. Fun, thoughtful, a little scary since you weren't sure if the gear would blank, and wildly exposed! Two more pitches of steep crack climbing led to a steep ramp the cut right across the face. We took this ramp one pitch until we could find more cracks, and then headed up once again.


We topped out at 10:30am! We were climbing with a fire under our heels to get off the face before the heat of the day was upon us. We roped up at 6:00am.


To get off, we downclimbed the so far as we know, unclimbed East Ridge. The route would be around 5.6 and well protected. After the ridge, we needed to climb the next high point east to get to a col to glissade back to camp. The descent took 3-4 hours.




















It looked like a storm was a-brewing, and the difficult route finding around Sinister would be gun to the head shitty, so we hiked and scrambled back to that kitty litter Gunsight camp, arriving at 9pm and knackered.


The next day was spent hiding from the sun and resting. We did the Gun Runner Traverse the next morning to wind down the trip, moved camp to below the pass, and bouldered for the rest of the day.
















To get the boat in time, we woke up at 4am and did the 12 mile hike and descent down the slope to get to the shuttle by noon. We spent our left over $4 at the bakery in the day old section, and spent the rest of the day on buses, boats, and driving home. The vast majority of the tip was spend trying to find shade under rocks.


We have a lot more footage and Wayne will post his video footage shortly.




Gear Notes:

1.5 cam rack up to 4" (or an entire rack of .75 camalots), nuts, and slings. ice ax, crampons. one rope.


Approach Notes:

Stehekin to Bridge Creek to Agness Creek Trail to Spruce Creek to Spruce-Icy col. Traverse low under the towers and peaks to the garden glacier under Sinister. From here careful route finding to a platform almost level with the start of the route.

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awesome, that route looks like it has some great climbing. pretty rad you guys were able to also get the 2nd ascent of the Gunrunner when you were out there. were you able to free it?




another last great problem goes down!

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I was wondering about last great problems. At my slideshow back in '06 i was given a list of mountains/faces detailed in steepness and length. I set it down on a card table but stupidly forgot to grab it in the hubub. Was that Harry Majors who gave it to me?


The "attempt" shown in the Becky guide and in the AAJ was on another face somewhere else on the mtn.


As for freeing the gunrunner, yes we did, but I wouldn't give us any sort of props for that since the climbing wasn't harder than 5.9 for over 10-20 feet, and it sounds like the FA party needed to move over a crack or something (getting dark?) so it probably wasn't aid out of difficulty. Warning on the gunrunner: it's very loose and there were a plethora of belayer slayers on the technical pitches. i wonder if an earthquake hit the range? wayne and i tried to trundle the extremly dangerous blocks if someone wanted to do this route. 2nd warning: bring tat. The raps we found were ancient horrific slings. maybe we couldn't find where the FA team rapped? Wayne and I belayed about 1/2 the traverse and simulted the rest in about 5-6 hours. We weren't hauling ass since we were whooped and ready to go home. It probably can be done a lot faster. Only a small rack is needed. It could also be done easily with a half rope folded over since the 1st crux pitch is 50 feet and the 2nd crux roof pitch is about 60 feet. The "45m" raps can be broken up or downclimbed a bit (but bring tat). Once again, be careful with all the loose blocks. Fingerless gloves would be nice since the lichen on the rock cut our hands up too.


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Nice Michael and Wayne! Another modern Classic? I'm Glad you hit up the bakery as well... I used to let PCT hikers have the day-olds when they would help do the dishes!


Perhaps our hyping of Gunrunner was misguided, but I know Dan and I both had a blast and found lots of lichen-free white granite, without much looseness at all. We rapped once from the top of the NE peak, then I believe once again from somewhere below the summit of the middle peak, then once finally off the South Peak.


It took us all day, but if 6 hours is a more reasonable time, then I guess it definitely deserves the downgrade to a grade III route. However, it sounds like you did your new 15-pitchs in 4.5 hours so you guys must have been crushing out there!


We encountered 3 short sections of 5.10. The hand cracks off the glacier (shown in your photo), a steep face climbing pitch on golden rock (about pitch 5) and short thin-hands section leading up to the North peak. As you mentioned, we did a short A1 pendulum when a crack here died (might have been this third 5.10 section) but if we'd just looked ahead a little more and started 15' to the right, it would have been avoided.

Edited by Blake
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I remember wondering about routes on that side of the mountain after doing the Ptarmigan Traverse. At the time getting into Dome was a slight pain in the ass. With the westside road a mess your treck from Chelan makes the whole thing crazy.


Right on :tup:

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no way it's still a grade 4





pitches, i wonder if the area suffered an earthquake?


sorry,my keyboard is broken


access is about as hard as fury but swiss is way further



Nice work Wayne and Mike!:rawk: That rock looks very cool!


Wayne and I established the first route on the 1800' SE face.


1800'/15 pitches = 120' a pitch???


All that fancy prototype gear and you guys took 40 meter ropes?





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Good shit Mike and Wayne!


Good parts: "This fire water somehow reacted with the plastic, and created the most awful brew. It tasted like turpentine mixed with poison. We drank it anyway...." LOL! A 1 lb 45L Cilogear backpack...holy shit, that's almost a negative number. Great pics too!

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You guys were cruising. I'm impressed by your 4-hour time. You definitely have your lead switches and route finding dialed in. Though it sounds like everything magically unfolded the way you could have hoped in getting to the megadihedral.


The mountain looks like great granite. I guess the haul in is the price you have to pay to get to some incredible rock in the Cascades.


Did you do a combo of downclimbing/shortroping and rappelling down the ridge or just downclimbing?

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