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[TR] Peak 8252 - Full N Arete Varden Creek Spire 8/1/2009


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Trip: Peak 8252 - Full N Arete Varden Creek Spire


Date: 8/1/2009


Trip Report:

Brad and I left Everett at 3:30 pm intent on reaching Burgundy Col that evening. Traffic and farm tractors seemed to be conspiring against us but ultimately we arrived at the turnout at around 7:00pm. It took a few minutes for us to line up on the BC trail which isn’t obvious from the road. I made note of a large black rock that marks the trail just down the hill about 100yds up from the left edge of the turnout. The trail is very obvious once you find it.


We headed off sampling a few blueberries down at the creek crossing, and dropping some cold one’s (compliment’s of the thoughtful Brad) for the triumphant return. About an hour and a half later we arrived at the bench, a beautiful local, worthy of camping but buzzing with mosquito’s so in spite of the setting sun we pressed on arriving at the Col by headlamp about 3 hrs after leaving the car. Surprisingly, we had the Col to ourselves.


Saturday morning we awoke to Bluebird skies and only a few skeeters, we used a rope to get down the steep, loose debris adjacent to the remainder of the snowfield. (a note: if you have a junk rope you can leave there on your next climb it may keep some day hikers from getting killed, we saw a large group that had gone down the slope unroped, and reportedly, justifiable nervous). The top of the snowfield was 20’ below the camp (surprising since on my last visit at same time of year the snowfield was about even with camp).




We dropped our bivvy gear at the base of Chianti and made our way across to the base of Varden Creek Spire. Standing at the true toe of the route we thought it more adventurous to do the ‘full N. Ridge’ of the Arete. Note that the TR posted in 2007 starts on a bench a few pitches up. Our addition starts where the toe reaches the lowest point and heads up through the obvious crack system into two slightly imposing left facing dihedrals (5.7-5.8), it all pro’s well and I thought a nice warm up for the balance of the route. Figure on 1 200’ lead, and a second simulclimb over easy terrain for 300’ to reach the base of the route. Make sure to veer right to the edge of the arête to find the base of the route.



View from the toe of the buttress. The route runs straight up through the sunlit left facing dihedral.



Brad heading up P1, route follows skyline on right.

Not much to report on the route proper. The topo was a little vague, with the best advice being ‘stay as close to the arête as possible and you’ll do fine. Note that Pitch 2 joins the right facing dihedral about 15’ up from the roof, not at the corner as shown.


I'm still not sure about Pitch 7 as I was psyched about getting on a little more technical climbing on the 5.9 variation. However, the moves off the arête looked greate, but didn’t didn’t seem to match the ‘lieback’ description, then the arête looked blank after that, so I ended up dropping down off the arête and wrapping around 15’ to the left to a good belay alcove. From there we led up through what I presume was the 5.7 variation. I looked off to the right to a likely 5.9 corner but the rock had a lot more lichen than I was interested in so I carried on up the friendlier line.



The prominant formation about 2/3 up the ridge in this picture is the end of the route.


We wrapped around the summit block and finished off up to the summit. I’m not sure which line the first ascent party went up but I started straight up some blocky moves that led into a left facing dihedral. You’ll note two large flakes on the right, the first takes pro, the second is loose! We tried to dislodge it on the way downj. Even though it’ll shift 6-8”, scary when you grab it, it would not break loose. From there it was straightforward as I passed the first set of rap slings then headed right, up an exposed crack to the base of the final sumit moves.


The last bit takes you to a tabletop sized ‘summit’, an awesome finish. Enjoy the moves, because you’ll need to reverse them on the way down as there are no fixed anchors on top but it is protected by a fixed pin.



Brad on his way up the final summit block.


Descent: Because we approached from the Burgundy Col, we descended the obvious col on the West side of the ridge. We left rap slings for those who want to avoid a short, sketchy downclimb section. From the bottom of the col, descend left to the snowfield, and continue down the fall line. From the snowfield we left two large cairns about 100 yds downslope marking the scramble out. Be sure to follow this exit if you go to the West, as all other lines cliff out as near as we could see.


All in all it is a route reminiscent of W. ridge of Forbidden, or N. Ridge of Stuart, much longer than the former, and not nearly as good as the latter but certainly a worthwhile endeavor.

Gear Notes:

Single set of nuts, double cams up to #2 camalot, brought slings but rarely used them, it's a pretty direct line.


Approach Notes:

I’d recommend the BC approach as it’s well-traveled, and although somewhat lengthy, the traverse to the base of the route takes you across glacier polished slabs and below some Silver Star and spectacular cliffs above. I’d be interested to hear if someone tries the Varden Creek approach as it is by far the shortest way in but with significant ‘shwack potential.


Edited by ddday
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