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[TR] The Mole - North Face 6/5/2010

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Trip: The Mole - North Face


Date: 6/5/2010


Trip Report:

James put out a call for partners for the weekend and I saw my opportunity to convince someone to undertake the 'schwack up to the Mole. We met up in town and were off a bit after 10:00 on the nice trail up to Yellow Jacket Tower. Following the description in Beckey and the new Kramer guides we left the trail just below Yellow Jacket and made a rising traverse into Hook Creek. We probably stayed a bit too high and had some funky slabs, but the route wasn't too bad for the most part. Once we crossed the creek we made good use of the elevated highways nature has installed (trees) and it got a little easier. Eventually we hit the snow which was mostly crappy but quicker in the old consolidated avalanche debris.






It took us probably 4.5 hours to get to the upper basin below the Hook Creek/Rat Creek group but we spent another good hour or more looking for a tent site. We had both brought lighter sleeping bags and didn't feel like stomping forever in the slushy snow to get a wet platform, so we searched high and far for a melted out spot before finally settling on "tick ledge" about 30 feet off the snow. It was only a tad wider than our tent, but at least it was dry (and full of ticks as we would later discover).


IMG_5157.JPG - The Mole is just above Jame's head with the flatter top, the North Face is facing us.


It was now quite a bit later than we had planned, but given the longer days and the questionable weather forecast for Sunday we decided to make it a sunset climb and racked up on our ledge.






The snow was steep but good for step kicking now and we made better time to the base of the North Face.


IMG_5166.JPG - The Shrew from the base of the Mole.




The diagonal moss filled cracks splitting the face were obvious. I took the first lead, starting from the snow and up to where the cracks split left and right. Kramer makes it sound like you should keep right while the original route splits left. I tried the right option and was soon faces with fist cracks filled to the brim with moss, standing on crumbly wet moss, and no clear evidence that anyone else had been that way for some time. I didn't feel like excavating that much stuff so I downclimbed 20 feet and took the left route which soon revealed some cleaner cracks amidst the moss and some fun 5.7 climbing.






A long pitch led to a nice ledge with some bushes and slings where I stopped and brought James up. From there he took over the lead for a second longer but easier pitch (60+ meters) that led to the summit. I followed quickly as we watched the sun sinking.




The views from the top were well worth the effort, especially with the evening light!






After photos and snacks there was only one obvious rap route so we took it making three single rope rappels into the gully on the south east side.




From there it was some quick plunge stepping and then an awesome glissade all the way back to camp. We made it just before we needed headlamps.




Enjoying the single beer I brought and our dinner we crawled into bed dreaming of the Shrew for the next day.


These dreams were dashed by the sound of rain sometime in the morning. We stuck our heads out and decided to go back to bed hoping it would stop. We watched the ticks crawl on the outside of our tent and contemplated new ways to kill them.






Four hours later or so the cloud finally sank low enough that it stopped raining on us so we packed up and left our tiny ledge.




The hike out was drier than we had psyched ourselves up for, but not any shorter.




We ran into Jim Donini and Kevin Rose at the Hook Creek Boulder right before the car. Even the old schoolers were bouldering that day!


Overall a really fun climb, although it would have been much nicer to had had a second day up there since we had the gear. The approach wasn't bad, but also not great. I'd like to check out the other option via Toketie next time. Go get at er, alpine season is here (if it ever dries out again)!





Gear Notes:

Brought a bigger rack than needed, but the climb took lots of 0.5-3 camalots with a few options for larger nuts. Not much need for small gear. If you take the right hand option you may need to build a gear belay, but going left gets you nice trees.


Approach Notes:

Cross the bridge, hike up to Yellow Jacket Tower, head right on a level or slightly rising traverse, cross Hook Creek and head up hill. Keep heading uphill. Head up hill some more. You'll still be able to see the road.

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Nice! The right hand crack has been done at least a few times albeit a bit dirtier/harder. The ticks have been terrible this year due to the cooler/wetter spring. I have been bit 4 times and have pulled seemingly hundreds off myself and the pooch since February.

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Nice Stewball and James! :brew:


Sorry the weather rolled in, but at least you got to check out that valley. Did anything else look worthwhile up there?



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Yeah, the right hand crack takes a more fun looking line up the face for sure. It just looked like it hadn't been done in a long time, or someone ran it out a lot more than I on crumbling moss holds. Both are possible.


The approach was not as bad as I was expecting, there were only a few spots of really thick dead fall. Having sticky rubber approach shoes made walking on the down logs easier, James took a few less of the elevated highways than I did.


The routes up there are mostly only a few pitches long but I wouldn't mind heading up there again, some of the rock looked nice.

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I'm pretty sure Liz Ryen and I did the right hand crack around 2005. I remember staying right on the face the entire time and summiting slightly on the W. face side. These routes will get more traffic with the new book. Pretty pictures.

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Made the same trip on the 4th & 5th last weekend.

Thank You for kicking in some steps to the base of the route !

Time and wind seem to keep bring down more trees adding to the approach. The Snow has melted back, tent and camp spots are easy to find with pleanty of fresh water near by.

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