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[TR] Mt. Maude - North Face 6/26/2011

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Trip: Mt. Maude - North Face


Date: 6/26/2011


Trip Report:

Arrived at the Phelps creek TH around 9 and were on the trail by 9:30. The road in is now open the entire way to the TH, which is nice! Forded several creeks, one of which was pretty deep and most of the group took their boots off. BK and I tried jumping and actually made it with dry feet. Booya.



Consistent snow on the trail after only about a mile, so it made the going a little slower, but we weren't postholing. Reached Leroy creek and turned up towards the basin. The Leroy basin trail was dirt for the first 600vf or so, then turned into consistent snow around 5000ft. We decided to camp a little higher than the basin since we had the time and didn't want to wake up quite so early the next day, so we booted up to 6800ft, found a nice flat spot by some trees and set up camp for the night.



Camp at 6800ft



7FJ from camp


In bed by 8, up at 2am-ish and heading for the col shortly thereafter.




We were treated to great views from the col off to the east as the sun was coming up and we were roping up getting ready for the traverse.







The snow was pretty good; firm enough for your crampons to dig in and to hold a picket, but not full blown ice. We moved our two rope teams in running belays, the second team using the first teams pro. This let us efficiently move across the traverse. Rick lead out first and brought us in on a bunch of rocks halfway to the base of the NF route.

It was quickly made apparent that routefinding on the traverse was going to be the crux of the climb. Most descriptions talk about going over the col and then dropping down to the glacier before traversing. We looked at this option but the steepness and exposure looked to be about the same and we felt that it wouldn't really save us any time to lose the elevation, traverse, and then gain it again. Maybe in the summer when a significant amount of snow was melted out, a ledge system scramble down to the lower parts makes sense, but it wasn't apparent to us this time of year.

I led the second pitch and was treated to rapidly steepening terrain, a few mixed moves, and rockfall. After a kegerator sized boulder (as Niki called it) whizzed past me, I decided to pull everyone in at a protected spot, reset the lead, and make sure we moved quickly through the next section as to not get hit by any rock falling off the mountain.




After reracking gear and an on route dump ("This is the most exposed dump I've ever taken" was the exact quote), BK lead out onto the actual route and we started gaining elevation. Finally!




"The Death Cornice" was present and in a glorious way. I've never seen a cornice as big or scary as this one as we quickly crossed under it's path. We could see fracture lines in the top of it once above, so it's getting ready to go. Going to make a mess once this bad boy comes down





One last lead change with Niki leading and we were at the summit ridge, followed by a short 100ft walk up to the summit. The entire traverse and face were done in 4 leads with 12 pickets and a 37m rope.



Once on the summit, I broke out the 6lbs of fried chicken I hauled with me the whole time as a surprise for the team. It's the best two day old, cold fried chicken any of us ever had.







After taking some time to destroy some chicken and take in the views, we headed back to camp via the slog route. This proved somewhat difficult as the "trail" was hard to find up there. We ended up turning off the ridge into a gully marked by a carin. We followed this down and with a bit of cleaver traversing, we made it back to camp. Refilled on water and packed up, we headed down for the slog out that to me felt like an eternity. Back at the cars by 8:30pm and in bed by 12:15am. Long weekend, but definitely an awesome climb.


Gear Notes:

Pickets (12), a few small-medium sized nuts and tricams, #2 mastercam, a few screws (didn't use these)


Approach Notes:

Phelps creek TH, turn off on Leroy creek to Leroy basin. Snow on the Phelps creek trail about a mile in, and consistent snow on the Leroy basin trail above 5k

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Nice pics and TR BootsandPants. I like Niki's description of a "kegerator" sized boulder! :shock: Glad it fell before you guys got there. Congrats on the summit.

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