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[TR] Mamie Peak - Ellation Crags 8/30/2010


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Trip: Mamie Peak - Ellation Crags


Date: 8/30/2010


Trip Report:

So Mamie Peak is the large lump of granite that sits above the Hannegan Pass Trailhead. I'm sure every climber who passes through takes at least a moment to consider it but I'm only aware of at least two prolific route developers over the years who have wandered up there climbed a pitch or two then never returned.


In July of '07 (the same day Sol got married) I was hiking to the pass with my wife and daughter Araya when I took the first photo below. While most of the rock has the appearance of choss I could make out a distinct, large smooth buttress of rock in the center of the face that appeared to be split by a single long crack system. Dissuaded by significant amounts of greenery as well as an unfounded reputation for friable crappy rock I managed to more or less dismiss it as a possibility.


Mamie Peak from the Hannegan Pass Trail. Ellation climbs the center of the rounded buttress in 5 pitches just left of the central gully system starting off the obvious treed ledge. 3 pitch "approach" slab is somewhat out of view. The small, clean looking dihedral pretty much in the center of the photo is "Dave's Grand Dihedral" and is about 175' long.





Another year, another daughter Ella. On a beautiful late fall day in September '08 I'm out alone reenacting the Sound of Music by traversing the superlative ridgeline from Hannegan Pass back over Hannegan Peak, Granite Peak, Peak 7020' and Mamie Peak. I'm surprised to find that Mamie Peak is composed of excellent, compact white granite when not covered in large mats of moss and krumholtz.


The east ridge of Mamie Peak is a nice 4th class adventure.





Several weeks later my first attempt to reach the base is stymied by steep dirt, wicked brush, and deep impassable gullies. Once again I almost dismiss it, but a week later I'm back this time nailing a more or less reasonable approach that reaches the rock at the base of a 100' long splitter finger crack. Right before Halloween I managed to spend a cold, wet day cleaning out the start of the crack.


"Woodland Critter's Christmas" is a beautiful 100' 5.8-5.9 finger crack. This was the first pitch established. The 5.8 hand crack nearby is excellent as well.





A winter, a spring, massive piles of avi debris close the road a mile before the trailhead. A ridiculously heavy load of ropes, brushes, saws, biners, bolts and other gear is hauled to the base. With the exception of a desert trip that spring every single day I "climbed" in '09 was spent scrubbing, scraping, trundling, drilling and generally thrashing around on ropes. Of course I didn't do this alone and am heavily indebted to the help and hard work of Gene, Justin, Matt, Tyree, Owen and Dave all of whom gave up a day of their lives they'll never get back to bring these climbs to fruition.


As the summer turned to fall the possibility that creating "Ellation" might drag into another year became very real. With weekends consumed by other responsibilities there were mornings I'd get up at 3 am drive and hike-in in the dark, start jugging fixed lines at fist light and scrub for a couple hours before rushing back down the trail to get to work before my absence was noticed. Seeing the sunrise on Ruth and Sefrit from high up on the wall was always well worth the loss of sleep.


The colors changed, the weather deteriorated yet somehow it got done and on what might have been the last climbable day of the year up there Matt Alford and I finally climbed the route with a glorious backdrop of fresh-snow covered peaks. At the end of the day Matt just says "cadillac Darin, cadillac".


Another winter, another year and I'm off chasing new obsessions. I finally made it back up yesterday morning. Brushed out and flagged the path which had remained surprisingly intact and gave the first pitch another light scrub. So many good memories for me, a happy place. The bugs were absent, the smell of fall in the air, colors will be changing soon, a perfect time to climb. I hope somebody gets out there and enjoys it!


Ellation is 8 pitches long and can be rappelled with a single 70m rope. The climbing is varied with everything from full-on friction to finger and hand cracks to insecure face climbing to slightly-overhung jug hauling. Cruxes are short and the protection is excellent. The few moves harder than 10bish? can easily be french-freed. FYI pitch 5 starts by climbing alongside a precarious looking flake. I jumped up and down on it, bounced tested cams behind it and pried at it with everything I had short of a 3' crowbar. It's still there and will remain so in all likelyhood just climb ..ah..mindfully.



Matt A approaching "Ellation" in October '09. The first pitch ends just above the obvious roof at the bottom of the photo. P2 & P3 climb the slab above. P4 through P8 climb the buttress above with P8 going through and ending just above the highest visible point of rock.




Pitch 3 of Ellation, exciting and sustained climbing on small chickheads. Mount Ruth in the background





The ramp on Pitch 6. This was the feature that orignally caught my eye several years before hand. When it peters out, really fun face climbs leads to the only ledge on the main wall which is all of 6" deep.





Pitch 7 offers sustained but well protected slab climbing in an awesome position.





Starting the first rappel. Amazing views of Sefrit, Baker and Ruth.





Looking up the valley from somewhere on the approach.





Link to Topo, print at 200 dpi






Gear Notes:

70m rope.


nuts, double set of cams tiny to 1.75", single set to 3". 12 draw/slings.


Approach Notes:

There are some nice car camping spots at the trailhead.


Follow the Hannegan Pass trail about 4 minutes to a large clearing full of slide alder. A large white granite boulder is visible several hundred feet above the trail. Follow the trail through the clearing then another 40' until you reach a very small dry watercourse crossing the trail. Immediately after this leave the trail and thrash left through brush then into forest picking up the much larger extension of the water course, which now appears as a dry streambed. If you do not pick up a dry streambed within 30' of the trail start over or you will be in for a world of hurt!


Follow this about 10 minutes up to the aforementioned white boulder, a great place to hang out or maybe even bivi. Continue up the drainage past the boulder maybe 150' until you can bushwack straight left through a clearing in the slide alder to reach forest at a 30' tall snag. At this point a heavily flagged trail switchbacks up through very steep woods. The next 10 or 20 parties (is that presumptuous?) are going to determine if there will be one good or many poor trails. Please make an effort to follow the existing path, I promise it's the best possible route, and leave the ugly flagging up. I'll go clean it out before winter.


It takes about an hour from the car to reach the base of the climbs.


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The Ruth Creek drainage is one of my favorite areas for skiing and hiking. Indeed I have looked up at that rock several times and wondered if there is anything climable on it. It sounds like you put in some real work to make an enjoyable climb and its up to the rest of us to take advantage of that and put some traffic up there. I'm definitely adding this to my list, printing up the topo, and hope to check it out in the next season or two. :brew:

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I'd like to take three days next year and climb The Mythic Wall, Ellation and The Arayete all as day trips. Seems like it would be a quality trip. Hard to believe it's going on 5 years since I set foot in the Green Creek Valley. I wonder if anyones going in there still? Someday I'm going get back up to that Labor Day Wall as well. I still have dreams of a 15 pitch rock climb on Mount Shuksan.

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"still, quality unclimb lines" in the Green Creek? Errr...maybe with a lot of work. I think Mike and I were real fortunate to find a relatively non-chossy route up the center of that wall. Looseness abounds up there. The Green Creek Needle might have a nice 2 pitch arete route to climb. Looonnngg approach to a small objective but it's a real gem. But who knows maybe I'm full of it. The area is definitely worth a visit regardless.


Definintely more routes to be climbed up on Mamie, but I think the logistics of developing filthy rock into quality multipitch routes that you can't walk around to the top of is daunting for most people. I'll be real excited to see if how much development occurs up there in the future.

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Woodland Critter's Christmas Crag



5.8 finger cracks and thin flakes on the Woodland Critter's Christmas Crag.



D on the FA leading out from the belay. Stellar pitch, be kind to the flakes.



This is a sweet spot and with some traffic the climbs will become classics. Bring a brush and put in some scrub time when you rap.

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  • 10 months later...

Finally got back on Ellation after almost two years. The climbing was in fact better than I remembered. The trail is in good shape and fairly easy to follow, the route itself looks to have seen very little traffic.


The "Approach Slab", Pitches 1-3, have definitely collected a bit of grit and tufts of moss but are fine to climb. The main wall has remained very clean, infact I think it's quite a bit cleaner than it was the first go round.


I'd recommend a mid-day start as the "Approach Slabs" are still suffering from some runoff in the mornings before the sun dries it out. If anyone ever gets out there and climbs it let me know what you think.

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  • 1 month later...

Some friends and I did most of Ellation recently and thought it was a great climb. Darin put a lot of effort and thought into making a route that is safe, clean, and takes the best-looking line around. The rock is awesome up there!


With new fixe double-bolt-and-ring anchors and an approach this quick and non-schwacky, Ellation should get climbed a bunch.




Diorite knobs - P4's 5.10 face climbing was my favorite of the route





P6 - More gear and easier climbing than it looks from the belay



It's a lot like climbing a good squamish route on a steeper version of the apron, with no roads, people, border crossings, etc etc. The rappels are very slick with one rope as well.

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