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[TR] Mt. Cruiser - South Corner 8/5/2011


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Trip: Mt. Cruiser - South Corner


Date: 8/5/2011


Trip Report:

We hiked up to Flapjack Lakes to set up a base camp for several days of exploration, including a climb of Mt. Cruiser-- to complete my friend Rick's lifelong to-do list.


Approach trail from Staircase: now, with goats!



We got a casual start the next day, leaving camp around 9:30 am. About an hour of following the half-snowed over trail heading to Gladys Divide, we reached the boulder field below the gully leading up to Needle Pass. Right now it's completely covered with snow. We put on crampons here and ascended to Needle Pass. The snow was hard, but not incredibly steep.


Ascending the snow towards Needle Pass



At the top of the pass we stowed axes and crampons and scrambled up the slab (3rd/4th class) and then followed the many ups and downs to reach the summit area. The rock here was mostly snow-free.


Scramble time



We got a nice view of the summit block before the clouds rolled in for good.


Mt. Cruiser



When we dropped down the last dirty gully to where I remember a talus field being (a few Septembers ago) there was a sizeable snowpack that had pulled away from the rock face, leaving a nice moat. We had to choose between crossing the snowfield or scrambling along the exposed, ledgy rock adjacent to the moat. We had left crampons behind, so the group was more comfortable with traversing the rock. Being the only rock guru in the group I decided to protect this pitch and belay my team members up.


The moat. We scrambled on the rock to the left.



I slung one rock feature and used a tricam before reaching the gully and climbed up to the rap station below the chockstone. From here I brought the other two up. My tricam is still wedged in the rock, sadly enough. I should have had a gear removal seminar before we began.


This was my first time leading the summit pitch so I wasn't sure what to bring. The guides mention a #3 Camalot but I never used mine, just a few slings for the few bolts up there and a nut to put in a directional at the ridge. We were completely encased by clouds and didn't get a very exciting summit experience. But I was happy to devour my Whatchamacalit candy bar as my teammates arrived behind me.


By the time everyone was huddled on the summit, it was already 3:45 and we hadn't even stopped for lunch yet. All the gear swapping was arduous and time consuming. We really wanted to get out before dark. So we downclimbed to the rap station below the ridge, rapped to the belay spot, and climbed down through the cannon hole to get to the second rap station. While we were coming up I pondered the possibility of using both ropes to rap down so we could avoid the moat and sketchy traverse. It looked like we'd have enough line to do it.


So I went first, having an interesting time hauling the rope out of the moat, tossing it onto the snow and chimneying between the rock wall and the snow about a legs-length in front of me. I'd never been so happy to be standing on a solid patch of rock when I finished the rap with between 5-8 feet of rope left.


Bottom of rappel: from the middle of the chimney to a snow-free patch of rock.



We reversed the ups-and downs, guzzled some water and downclimbed the scrambly bits with no need to set a fixed line. We contemplating rapping from Needle Pass as well but by then we'd already dumped rock gear into our packs. We used crampons and axes to descend, and walked back to camp, returning at 8:15 pm. It was a long day and it was much more sporting than the last time I'd been up there.


Descending snow



Somehow it wasn't entirely clear that the last person needed to clean gear so I'm missing one double length sling and its 2 associated biners. I guess that's my fault for not doing a complete inventory of my gear before rapping off. Lesson learned.


More photos can be found on Picasa.


Gear Notes:

Axe/crampons for gully leading to Needle Pass

Nuts/ tricams/slings to protect rock scramble above moat.

Handful of slings for 5.0 pitch

We used 2 ropes, helpful for clearing the snow below the chockstone gully.


Approach Notes:


Edited by jessbee
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