Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber


      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  

ice cliff arete 9/1/2009

Recommended Posts

Trip: ice cliff arete


Date: 9/1/2009


Trip Report:

a few weeks back, a plan to do the 40th anniversary free blast of Supercave 166 had fallen apart due to scheduling conflicts. I was quite disappointed to be spending another weekend down at deep creek when Jim Langdon called. He had a plan to climb, possibly a new route, between Ice cliff glacier and Sherpa glacier. Without a thought, I accepted.

Jim: has been doing FAs in the cascades since before my parents had pubes, did the Steck-Salathe before I was born, climbed ,onsight, a 10 pitch FA on Eminem wall, and thusly seemed like a great guy to tie in with.


My pouting over having had one trip dissolve, changes to stoke as I go down to Mt. Goat, buy a new 200' cord and replacement water filter to keep us from hauling too much water up hill. Sweet..... I pack quickly, Jim arrives, we load my crap and start talking gear.....

After he scoffs at my choice to bring a helmet, I change the subject. Proudly I announce that I have a water filter. It seems that in his career in the mountains both as a climber and a USFS employee, Jim has never contracted: giardea, scirrosis, cervical herpetosis, or any water born illness. Jim doesn't treat his water, those pumps are too heavy.

Yes sir, I'll trust your experience.


The plan is to bivy at the TH, walk in, climb the route, bivy on the ridge, hike out. Driving across the desert, we discover that Jim has a 1st edition Beckey guide. My 3rd edition Beckey guide tells us that our intended route is called "Ice Cliff Arete", and was climbed in 1991 from the I C glacier side of the ridge....

whatever, we'll climb it from the other side.


Hiking in... -from left: Sherpa glacier, Ice Cliff Arete, Ice Cliff Glacier, Mt. Stuart.


our route will ascend below the Sherpa glacier and make right for the ridge at the right-most tip of the Sherpa glacier.



Looking closely at that right tip of snow, you may see an amber-yellow dike leading 250' up and right, towards the ridge. This rose quartz dike was to me the most stunning feature of the outing. Crawling up a huge crystal carpet, 20' wide, littered with crystals like grapefruit. amazing




We do make great time up that glacial slab to the dike, but it is still work. Jim swears to me that when he was here last time, in September 1980, the glacier covered the basin from top to bottom, making the approach way easier.



Anyway, Jim tells me that I may still use that ice axe he had me bring. It may come in handy glissading down Sherpa pass.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Apparently Jim would have me believe that these basins were, in ancient times (Like before I started climbing), filled with snow and ice, making human travel much easier.

Though we don't find any clean water on route, we do find typical, and beautiful, stuart range ridge climbing and block crawling.....



We were way down there just 5 hours ago!



Jim in front of the northeast face(?) of Stu. Jim and someone climbed this wall from the Ice Cliff Glacier, claiming atypically clean and solid cascade stone. perhaps he'll chime in with beta?



On top, Jim can't help but look bad-ass..


Jim Langdon and the Stuart Range


Jim tells me of a super secret plan to climb Sherpa peak while we're up here. It seems that Sherpa is the last peak he has to summit in the Stuart range!! I'm in.

Walking and down-climbing towards Sherpa, we decide to climb in the a.m. rather than in the dark this evening. Ninja Jim taps a snow field for refill. Alas, I've finally found somethin to do with this silly axe that dings and dongs as I butt-slide down the slabs,...chopping snow. Oh well, at least I'm not carrying Jim's axe....


earlier, I offered to carry Jim's "axe" because it was dragging and catching on everything as he downclimbed. I say axe with quotation marks because this is like no axe I've ever seen before.


First of all it's like 45" long or something, second, it's dead straight with no leash, REALLY. It has a standard looking pick, but on the other side where the hammer is supposed to be, it has this spoon looking thingy. Seriously, can you imagine popping a tool and catching that spoony thing in the face? That could leave a mark!


So I holster his "axe" in my gear loop to wait for him to down climb a little further out of my trundle zone. Next thing I know, I trip over this silly pole hanging from my harness and find myself heading into the void. Miraculously, I regain balance, carry Jim's "axe" back to him, "Sorry sir, you'll have to carry that THING yourself." Jim replies that those things used to be way more useful when this place was full of snow and ice and stuff.


Again with the stories......


Anyways, we bivy.

Jim sleeps comfortably in his bag, only slightly bothered by the ridiculous ruffling of me in my "bag", a silver space blanket. (much like wrapping your legs in Doritoes bags for warmth... mmm ... spaceage technology).

Wake, climb gully that seems to be leading up, realize in the increasing west winds and dropping temps that we are definately not on the normal scramble route.



whatever, we hop over to the east side of the peak to dead calm air and direct sunlight. We end up completely circumnavigating the peak and balanced rock, digging the mad exposure into the mountaineer creek drainage. We summit via climbneying through a hole in the peak... super cool position to be jungle gyming into.

Jim ticks the last of the Stuart Range peaks...


Jim updates his 8a.nu scorecard



We beat it for Sherpa pass, and our knees rejoice in the comfortable 1000' of gravel glissading down the pass. Note the curious item in Jim's hand. It's that "axe", perhaps we COULD have chopped some firewood with it.


where's waldo?



Jim mentions that when he was here in the early 90's this too was snow from top to bottom, apparently they just slid or skied down the slope without fear of smashing into boulders.


oh really, more stories of disappearing glaciers and snowfields...... didn't some liberal wacko make a major motion picture about this very same "hypothesis".



yes, we really drank it.....straight off the ground



I barely made it back to the car with debillitating nausea and a caffeine withdrawn headache. Jim shows me 8 mile rock for some onsights, which through the strain or fear, eliminates my headache. Sweet, primed for the drive back across the desert!


It was an honor to have tied in with a real Master.


to recap, throughout my career I've climbed with:

Jim Langdon, who has climbed with Jeff Lowe and Royal Robbins, et.al.

Jimmy Dunn, who has climbed with everyone, et.al.

Scotty Burk, who has climbed with some dude named Almon.


So........... that means I..................









am still a tool.









Gear Notes:

light free rack to #2 camalot(could and should have been lighter), we should have used a 7 mil X 80' rope, I should have eschewed my harness for a webbing seat harness to save weight and space.


Approach Notes:

take trail don't get lost

Edited by leearden

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Great trip report on a seldom-climbed route!


Would have been a little better without all the liberal-earth-hugging-global-warming propaganda BS. Everybody knows God made the earth just the way it is and its not going to change.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Can't tell you how glad I am to see Jim still at it. Is that a Whillians harness he's wearing? No helmet, no filter, 4' ice axe, typical Langdon-you just gotta love that guy. Now HE'S older than dirt, unlike the rest of us mature Washingtonians.


I saw him at the Washington survivors picnic at Woodland Park several months ago-not the new wave climbers picnic, but the old timers picnic (Langdon wasn't nearly the oldest one there). Hadn't seen him in 35 year or so.


Say hi to him from Don the next time you talk to him.....



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this