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[TR] Mt. Cruiser - SE Face and its variation 8/22/2009


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Trip: Mt. Cruiser - SE Face and its variation


Date: 8/22/2009


Trip Report:

Mt. Cruiser 6104 ft.

Olympic Mountain Range

SE Face and its variation



I never climbed anything in the Olympics before so I was happy to join the Mazamas AR (Advanced rock) climb of Mt. Cruiser via SE Face route (5.6).


Despite the rainy start, we were overall blessed with good weather conditions throughout the climb.


On the first day, we hiked 8 miles from the Staircase Ranger station to Flapjack Lakes where we set up our base camp.



Olympic forest waterfalls:



Flapjack Lakes:




Next morning we set off for the Gladys Divide - another

1.5 miles - and veered off east through the boulder field once we spotted the Needle Pass that was completely dry except one little snowy patch at the top (see pics).



The Sawtooth Mountain Range and Gladys Divide in the morning:




Originally we had high hopes of snow/ice climbing through the Needle Pass chute thence the crampons, axes and ice screws we hauled all the way up there but invain - no need for those. The snow was gone that late in the season. What we faced instead was scrambling up VERY loose and steep choss and that turned out to be the most painful part of the trip.


The Needle Pass:




Mt.Olympus from the Needle Pass:



Our approach:





Once we reached the Needle, we ascended class 4/low 5 on the W of the ridge crest, passed a rock crevasse and crossed to the E of the crest for ¼ mile before heading down the loose chimney




to the base of Cruiser. We then traversed across the scree field to the broad chimney at the base of the climb where we split up and geared up for the SE Face and its variation (see pics).


First glimpse at the destination:




Our routes:



At the base of the climb:




Erika and Ryan on the summit:



Me on the summit (see, Ivan: I am not a dude!):




It took us 3-4 pitches with the significant runouts to get to the summit. Routefinding on the SE face variation was a bit tricky and time consuming. The afternoon clouds had gathered quickly


which did not bless us with much of the time window to enjoy the scenery. We rapped off of the bolt about 50 feet south of the true summit and one double rope rappel got us to the base.

At that point we noticed a family of mountains goats who were checking our abandoned backpacks out looking for something to munch on. A male goat was a way too aggressive and was bigger than my coach at home.



Pee loving goats:








They were checking us out while we were rapping down:




So we quickly loaded up and left for the Needle Pass. Two more raps down the crest ridge and sketchy chute got us to the boulder field. The descent really sucked: rocks were shooting down on us from everywhere and I have no clue how we made it back to the Flapjack Lakes.


A nice trip overall but the approach could have been more enjoyable if done earlier in the season as a mixed climb.



Gear Notes:

Alpine rack and extra webbing (used), crampons, ice screws and axe (not used)


Approach Notes:

Needle Pass Chute is dry and nasty

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I climbed this a couple years ago...Definitely better with snow on Needle Pass. It is a long approach for a small amount of rock climbing, but a fun climb. Nice pictures and TR. Was the bridge still bent from the falling tree?


Yes, the bridge is not passable yet although we were tempted to.


One would think that the feds could have done much better job fixing it given the outrageous entrance and campsite fees at the Staircase.

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