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[TR] Buckner/Sahale/Boston - Misty Mountain Slop 7/31/2011


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Trip: Buckner/Sahale/Boston - Misty Mountain Slop


Date: 7/31/2011


Trip Report:


Expect neither a trifecta of alpine tick list reduction, nor a new route, but a tale of getting bitch-slapped by the NOCA mountains.


CF, GE, DR and I all had planned a trip to the N ridge of Baker but after reading about the conditions on the ice pitch here , we sought an alternative, and Buckner came up as worthy (N face of course!). We had all our group gear and travel arrangements settled when the latest and great NOAA forecast appeared... gorgeous weather Saturday and 20% precip of .01 to .02 inches Sunday between 5 am and 5 pm. Hmmm... NOAA has been screwing up all summer and who knows what the fuck the weather will be like. Let's go and find out. We did.


We decided to maximize our glorious Saturday of blue-bird skies and long July days, by getting as close and personal to Bucker as we could. Also, we knew we'd never do an up and over on Sahale and traverse those loose ledges if we woke up at 2 am to marginal weather. Commit, baby, commit.


We hit Marblemount at 7 am and informed the Rangers of our plans. We were pushed and pushed about our "food securement plans". There are rodents after all and they can chew through our shit. Scary!!


We hiked the endless tyranny of switchback hell to Cascade Pass with too-full packs, then up to the arm, eating shit in the heat, then up the arm to Sahale Glacier camp.


Is this really July 30th?





There we took a break and a kindly Ranger lady looked on us with pity and asked if we wanted to change our permits from Forbidden Zone to Sahale camp. Thank you ma'm but we'd like another. We watched about a dozen climbers coming down from Sahale, a few glissading and others roped up by 4 and stumbling/bumbling down. We took our cue and headed up. Going was quick. The glacier was mellow as usual until steeping to about 45 degrees at the base of the pyramid.


Here we dug out a rope and GE led up to the summit. I followed and we brought up the rest. Views were glorious as usual from here!


Alpine pron extraordinaire:



We quickly rapped down the other side and saw some crazy folks on Boston. Was this a sun-induced hallucination? Soon said party crossed our paths and we exchanged words and obtained beta. Yes they had summited Boston and had just rapeled down. We asked about the infamous ledges, and where they may be. They had no idea, but told us of easy (but loose) class 3 up to the first false summit of Boston from whence we could attain the Boston Glacier. Glorious!


Headed off towards Boston:



The objective is in sight:



We headed up loose shitty rock.


It got a little better:



Then it steepened.



Anuses puckered, while comfort level stretched thin. The rock is shitty, friable, and worthy of its reputation. The "easy class 3" seemed to be getting to exposed class 3 with some class 4 - on shit. We were stopped short of the false summit and a patch of visible snow by shrinking testicles and the thoughts of plummeting a few hundred feet in our full packs and decorating Horseshoe Basin with some fresh bright red spots. We looked from this vantage for the correct path - the ledges - but were uncertain. We downclimb the sketch and look periodically over the edge for the ledges. Still unsure.


It's 6 pm. Time for a group decision. Bail. We will descend to Boston Basin and camp. If we are hassled for not having the permit, fine, we'll hike out.


We start down off the shitpile when DS says "Hey, I think this might be the ledges... anyone interested?". GE: no. CF: no. Me... must not be a pussy... OK, I am interested. I go and look. Hmm. It's promising. I start across... I think it goes. "Guys, I think it goes!". No answer. WTF. Another group discussion. GE: I am 50/50. DS: I am 50/50. CF: I am 70/30. The balance tilts; I start across. It looks good. Yes, I think it fucking goes. The terrain is not exactly such as to give warm fuzzies, but compared to what we were just on...


Traversing the ledges:



Soon I get to the glacier. There's a big ass crevasse, a moat, and a snow bridge. We rope up, traverse to a safe line and plunge-step down to 8000 feet. It's a flat spot, it's 7:30, we can see our route - time to camp.


While melting water, watching the black worms and contemplating where Mr. Ranger's rodents are to chew our food, we spot another party high on the ridge that we bailed on. They make it to the false summit of Boston and are headed down. They camp nearby and we are all crashed out around 10 pm.


1:30 am. I decide to take a leak and have a look outside. Stars, beautiful stars. I doze off again with happy thoughts.


5 am. Alarms goes off. Let's look outside. Fuck. We are socked-in. We get up anyways, eat a hot breakfast and procrastinate getting ready.


No sense of hurry here:



Maybe this white pea-soup will improve. Nope. We pack up our full packs again and decide to descend anyways. Maybe we can follow a boot path up to the summit. After descending to 7600 feet, we finally admit defeat. We need to see the route to do it - there are some crevasses, a bergschrund, and rock bands to negotiate, and the weather blows.





We head uphill again. Our camp neighbors are headed out to climb, and we wish them luck. Soon after we are back on the ledges, with full packs and the added joy of *wet* shitty rock to ascend. And it is misty, cold as fuck and we have zero visibility.


Even better when wet!



We work our ways back to the Boston shit-pile. Weather is worse. We are all hungry but decide we'd rather plunge-step out of this shitstorm ASAP. Within an hour we're in Boston Basin, below the clouds and relaxing on some rocks.


It's much better below the shit:



Then it's on to the lovely Boston Basin trail with its many charms: vertical rock/mud steps, deadfall, a sketchy stream crossing, and mud everywhere. Hmmm, I guess it beats switchback hell though. By noon, we're out.









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After your experience, what would you recommend as far as the Boston Peak traverse? Stay lower or is that even an option?... Heading up to Buckner this week. Thanks in advance.


There was a small snow patch just below the start of the traverse. It had no boot path so that contributed to our missing it. You may see that (or the snow will melt before then). If the snow/bootpath is gone, my advice is to start up towards Boston. Stay a little bit left of the ridge where you are walking on loose piles of smallish rocks. Then as it just starts to be less piles of loose rock and gets steeper, look immediately for the traverse on your right. It is relatively low.

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Now I don't feel that bad I had to stay in studying chemistry ;-)


Where the heck this mid-weekend MF storm came from? 1 am stars, 5 am soaked in? Damn!


Next time, Buddy, and good try !


Boston Basin has melted out like crazy since last weekend. I could not even recognize where we camped and we actually stopped to rest very near by (from the best I could tell). The stream corssing got worse too - that snow finger has collapsed.

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Seeing a TR with Boston in the title got me pretty excited. It is rare to hear of anyone else trying to climb this one. Here's my TR from a few years ago. We followed the route description listed in "Summit Routes".




Additionally here's a photo of the improbable ledges that gain the Boston glacier:


the glacier looks like it is a long way down from the ledges, but it goes!



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