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[TR] Mt. Constance - West Arete 9/2/2010


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Trip: Mt. Constance - West Arete


Date: 9/2/2010


Trip Report:

This is my first time posting a trip report. Hi everyone. I wasn't going to write about it but the more I think about I feel like this climb is worthy of being done more than it is. I think it is definitely one of the best alpine routes that the Olympics has to offer. Solid rock, good exposure and beautiful views... oh, and a knarly approach.

My brothers and I did it sometime late July. We went in Fri. via the four mile bike ride up the washed out Dosewallaps road and then hiked the two mile Lake Constance trail, which gains ove 3000 feet in elevation. We camped that night just above the lake in the south end of Avalanch Canyon, and spent the night warding off the fearsome and dangerous mountain pack rats. No gear is safe if you turn your back.

Sat. morning we followed the canyon another couple miles up to Crystal Pass and began simul-climbing the West Arete at about 10:00am (our alpine start had failed miserably). Compared to most Olympic rock, the route is solid and enjoyable. About 2/3 of the way up and after traversing a short snowfield which may be mostly gone by now, we reached the 200' headwall, which is not as bad as it looks upon the first sighting. I led two pitches of easy climbing on it before we simuled the final pitch. This brought us to the snowfield that joins the main ridgeline just below the summit of Mt Constance at about 1:00 to 2:00pm.


This is when things began to go downhill(note my pun), in more ways than one. The typical descent follows the main north-south ridgeline, and then drops back into avalanch canyon at the cat ears south chute, which I have been up numerous times before. We were ontrack for a while and even did the finger traverse. Somewhere along the way we went through the wrong notch and ended up following a side ridge onto the east side of the mountain which was surrounded by steep snowfields, massive cliffs and loose chutes. We stayed the night on the ridge and found ourselves attacked throughout the night by a fierce tribe of mountain pack rats. I woke to them nibbling on my sleeping pad and my brother's smartwool shirt was shredded. The arms were gone and the holes in the shoulder were as big as my hand. But, we survived. Sun. morning we decided to descend the East side of the mountain by a steep, steep snowfield and hike out via tunnel creek since the complications of retracing our steps would have been nightmarish. We spent the entire day descending the mountain and bushwhacking our way down Tunnel Creek, since, as I realized later the trail follows the south fork of tunnel creek, and we were on the north fork. Around 8:00pm we met the welcome sight of a gravel road which we followed for about an hour before two cars passed us and gave us a ride back to Pousbo. We returned the next week for our bikes and vehicle.

Lesson Learned... Mt Constance is haunted?!...and ... beware of the natives!!! :crazy: :crazy:





Gear Notes:

Ice axe, crampons, 60m rope, light rack, slings.


Approach Notes:

Burly. IMG_4147.JPGIMG_4199.jpgIMG_4147.JPGIMG_4199.jpg

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Hehe, that is awesome! I liked that climb as well and fortunately didn't have quite the epic descent although we missed actually summiting the mountain because the clouds came in and we weren't sure of the exact route from the ridge or the descent. I had a rat chew through my helmet strap and my ice axe leash the night before.


I've bushwhacked up the N. Fork of Tunnel Creek before and it sucks. There actually is an old trial in there, but it is way up above the creek and hard to find (we didn't the first time).


I don't think there was any snow in the south chute when i was up there in the summer. I would guess it's dry by now as well but there has been a lot of snow this year.

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I would say that the axe and crampons would still make life easier. The axe more than the crampons since the snow was a bit slushy. We did traverse some steep snow on the ridge, but I think you could get away without them.

Sorry about the pics. I tried. There are better ones. Maybe later.

We were up and down both sides of the creek and didn't see any sign of the trail. It was pretty miserable for some time.

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good idea, Jake. Had not thought of that one.


That was the last climb I have done (approx one year ago). It was my third time and my last on it.


At the bivy at the lake, I had my night with the rats. Good times. Good route but not overly casual.


And I have decended off the opp side of a peak before. Something odd about having to go back for whatever you left.



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We were up and down both sides of the creek and didn't see any sign of the trail. It was pretty miserable for some time.


The trail is on the north side of the creek the entire way, sometimes a little distance from the creek, but not terribly far. It's the usual game/fishermen's/climber's path.


Hmmm, what is it with the rats this season? We had our share on the Needles traverse weekend.

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