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BillA

[TR] Johannesberg Mountain - NE Buttress- Solo 7/17/2009

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Trip: Johannesberg Mountain - NE Buttress- Solo

 

Date: 7/17/2009

 

Trip Report:

On Friday and Saturday I climbed the NE Buttress of Johannesberg. It was "fun".

 

At the titanium pin I didn't like the looks of the exposed rotten 5.3 chimney, so I rapped into the slightly intimidating looking couloir. In the couloir I found five melted out mixed steps including a little sting in the tail chockstone near the top that barely went at about M6ish. The very tenuous snow that led up to the chockstone collapsed as I pulled over the overhang, so I don't think it would go now. If you climb the route this season, I recommend not going this way.

 

I bivyed below the snow arete. What an awesome location. I didn't bring a sleeping bag, just a bivy sack. It was a little chilly, but not bad.

 

The descent down the west ridge is long and tedious. The rap anchors are all good, I replaced the tat on a couple of them. The hike over Mixup is demoralizing and seemed to take forever. I got to my van around 9:30 Saturday night and promptly passed out until Sunday morning.

 

Couloir

 

2009-07-17_15_37_41.jpg

 

Bivy

 

2009-07-17_20_02_38.jpg

 

Snow Arete

 

2009-07-18_08_24_41.jpg

 

Obligatory summit parking lot shot

 

2009-07-18_10_18_23.jpg

 

Gear Notes:

No stove, found (barely) enough water on route, two tools

 

Approach Notes:

Easy

Edited by BillA

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I don't know if I'd do that route with a partner, let alone solo. Strong work. I don't have any beer drinkers, but I'd buy you a real one.

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I stared at that face for days from boston basin hoping to one day give one of the many routes up it a try. nice work on the solo. how bad was the rock?

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that's the dog's balls.

a large dog.

 

wow.. hugely understated TR.

 

I don't think I've met the dog that could carry 'em.

 

there's a few folks round here that have been, as they say, 'out there'... at least by my standards, that's 'out there'.. good job!

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Solos are sweet no matter what -- even when they are "demoralizing." Heck, that's partly what's about. Thanks for sharing, BillA.

 

Bet you do another one ... :tup:

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Nice trip. Everyone seems to go up that rotten rock pitch these days, and it sounds like a terrible solo way to go. It must have been earlier season or a cooler climate when my buddy and I did this route years ago, because the couloir seemed like the natural choice and we had maybe one break in the snow all the way up it. We used the rope in there, as much because we finally broke it out to make the rappel as anything and it's hard to retrieve your third classing psyche once you add the rope to the equation. Your encounter with rock steps and chockstones sounds much harder than what we found, but with a rope and a belayer its probably still more enjoyable than the steep rotten rock funk.

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Solos are sweet no matter what -- even when they are "demoralizing." Heck, that's partly what's about...tup:

 

Yup. On any big or even remotely serious climb that I ever did solo I experienced moments of serious misgiving that can only be described as "demoralizing."

 

I climbed the NE Buttress, solo, in about 1983 and experienced more than one of these moments. Good on you for doing this one, BillA: I know lots of climbers who have said they thought it looked like a good solo objective but just a few who have actually done it that way. All of them report that demoralization experience, though not necessarily at the titanium pin. It is just a big piece of terrain.

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I would say the rock quality ranges from really bad to absolutely horrendous with really short sections of alright. I think the couloir is definitely the more aesthetic/logical line. I also found it to be the most enjoyable section, even if it was a bit sketchy.

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Amazing trip BillA! It would feel very lonely alone there.

 

Continuing straight up on the rock has at least as large a claim for aesthetics and logic as does rappelling into a couloir on the side, jus' sayin'...I actually enjoyed that part and don't know why taking the rock path gets dissed so heavily. Yes it's loose, but hey, it's JBurg! Forbidden is across the street.

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the best decision i ever made a few years ago was to solo the east ridge instead of the ne butt - looking forward to following yours and a few other footsteps some day - damn skippy on that bivy spot too, perhaps the finest one i've ever seen in the mountains? i think joshk and i had far more kicks there than you! :)

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Bill:

 

Way to go on a very gutsy solo. A few thoughts: First, it is interesting to hear that the gully below the titanium pin was so broken up. Jim Nelson, Bob Davis and I did the route (at which time Jim placed the infamous Ti pin) on July 19, 1999 -- almost exactly ten years before your solo. The gully was solid snow to the top and doable with aluminum crampons and one axe each. Maybe its broken condition is a function of our hot summer, but it suggests to me that people should shoot for that route in late June/early July if they want to take the gully.

 

Second, the alternative rock section that can be taken to avoid rapping into the gully was said in Fred's book to be 5.3. We perpetuated that rating in the route description in Jim and Peter's book. Everyone I know who has gone that way (MVS, Kurt Hicks and others) say it is 5.8. Jim and Peter should consider revising the rating in the next edition.

 

Third, I hope people are still using "Doug's Direct" (which I named after Doug Walker) to get to and from the back of Mix Up. It beats the hell out of downclimbing the CJ couloir on a hot summer day (think bowling alley), and is faster/shorter than Gunsight Notch.

 

Keep it up.

 

John Sharp

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Awesome job!!!! :tup::tup:

 

I thought I read somewhere that the first chimney you get to is 5.8 and there's another one further left that's 5.3?

 

Sounds like you did it in style though!

 

So would you say that the couloir was the crux the way you did it?

 

What route did you take lower down? More in the trees or on the open rock face?

 

Are you sure you did the West ridge descent? I thought Mixup was to the East?

 

Did you see any bears? I saw 4 last year including one that might have been a grizzly, not going back without some flares.

 

I did a recon on the East route last year but only made it halfway. The rock sure is chossy. The Doug's direct is pretty straightforward but it's a long section of sustained 4th probably up to 5.2 or something, I rapped coming back down.

 

You should do the Index Traverse now, I just did it and have to say the rock is much better.

 

That's a nice "I'm past the hard part" look on your face at the bivy!

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I'm no alpine hardman but that chimney goes stronger than its mythical 5.3 rating. Kurt called it 5.8 and I'd be inclined to agree.

 

He also thought there might be a 5.3 option further around to the left. I didn't see it, but doesn't mean it's not there.

 

[his TR from 2005]

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the grade of the chimney is kinda irrelevant, as its primary problem is that it's rotten as fawk! i remember it as being a fascinating kind of rotten - some completly different species of rock that came in contact w/ the underlying crap, then weathered away, leaving this thin, crumbling, slick patina over the choss - it's not a big deal if you've got a rope and a partner, but soloing it is deeply stupid as it's basically russian roulette.

 

at any rate, i recall the chimney as being very short, but hideously exposed - if you're soloing the thing, bring a rope to rap off the pin and proceed :)

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Sounds like we have general agreement on the rating of the chimney. 5.8 is the new 5.3. I'll have to agree with BillA that the snow gully is totally cool and committing. Once your in it, I think you have to go up. Near the top, you can outstretch your arms and touch both walls of the gully at the same time while front pointing on steep snow. You can't do that at the office!

 

Party on,

 

Juan

 

 

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I wish I would have taken some pictures inside the couloir, but I was a little preoccupied. As per John's suggestion I would definitely say go a few weeks earlier than I did if you want to hit it as all snow. The couloir was the technical crux, but not the mental crux, which I believe was the massive amount of exposed, loose, grovel climbing involved.

 

As far as my route through the lower section, I'm not really sure. I wandered around through some gullies, chimneys, steep schwacking, etc. looking for the path of least resistance. I switched in and out of rock shoes twice and was able to keep the climbing to around 5.6/5.7.

 

I descended the East ridge, sorry about the typo! I had a picture on my cell phone from somewhere on the internets with the Dougs Direct route marked and I used that without any issues to get over Mixup, it's pretty straight forward.

 

Didn't see any bears this trip, but earlier this summer my buddy and I saw a rather large black bear on the Cascade River Road right before the Eldorado trailhead. It would be pretty awesome to see a grizzly in the Cascades...

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