Tom_Sjolseth Posted August 22, 2011 Share Posted August 22, 2011 Trip: Johannesburg Mtn - NE Buttress Date: 8/21/2011 Trip Report: Johannesburg Mountain. Its N Face is one of the most striking facades in the North Cascades. A twenty-minute hike gets you to its base, but from there, the summit is a world away. In the 4600' of relief from the Cascade Pass parking area to the summit, this mountain has a bit of everything alpine - dramatic waterfalls, vertical brush, towering walls of rock, and eroding glaciers crumbling and falling to the valley below. Along with the sights, the sounds of Johannesburg are equally impressive. Rarely does a day go by where one cannot hear the mountain rumbling. The last time I climbed Johannesburg, I told myself that I wouldn't be back for a while.. that there were other, new places for me to go visit and enjoy. But for someone who lives and breathes the challenge of the North Cascades, I silently waited for another opportunity to arise to climb this iconic symbol of our great range. When Wayne told me he was interested in climbing it after four prior, failed attempts, my ears perked up. I knew that Sergio was also interested, so I asked him to come along. Eliciting an emphatic "sure" from Sergio, we were now a team of three. Wayne and Sergio met me at my place after work on Friday, and we were finally leaving Everett at 7:15. We arrived to a nearly-full parking lot just before 10PM, which was a bit surprising considering it was a Friday. We turned in soon after we arrived. We awoke at 6AM and put on harnesses & helmets (an approach rarity). Crossing upper Cascade River was easy this time compared with the past two times I've done it, thanks to a snow bridge left over from this Winter's huge avalanche debris piles. Within a half hour, the approach was done, and the climbing began. On last year's climb with Steph (Steph's TR), we got onto the rock at ~4400' in the C-J Couloir. That resulted in a rather sketchy pitch of ~5.7 with sparse pro. This time, we got onto the rock at the very base of the couloir, and didn't need the rope (class 3-4). I must have a bad memory or something, because the rest of the climb seemed a bit more difficult than I remembered - either by perception or reality, I'm not really sure. Wet brush and mud (and damp moss on rock) did make things a bit tougher this time around. But aside from conditions, the route finding seemed trickier, and whereas last year we didn't use a rope after the very first pitch out of the couloir, this time we roped up for a steep, loose, sketchy pitch just below the bivy site. Once through the sketchy pitch (~5.8 loose, which Wayne led), it was a short scramble on the exposed ridge crest to the bivy site, which was still as magnificent as ever. Perhaps this is what keeps me coming back? The next morning we awoke and continued up to the summit, with a few more challenges than I expected. A few crevasses and schrunds were open, and the arete was sharper in places than it was last year. Nobody had signed the summit register since Steph and I summitted last July. The register dates back to 2008, and this was my third time signing it. The descent was as expected, and we wound up making two rappels this time (on my prior two visits, I was able to down climb the entire descent route). I think some very careful rappelling is OK on this ridge, but a lot of the rock is pretty loose, so I personally feel that down climbing is safer. Back to the cars at 4:00. 17.5 hours of total climbing, which is exactly how long it took Steph and I. If you plan to rappel the entire E Ridge and/or don't hit the route finding almost exactly right, I would suggest making this a 3-day climb. The following photos are a mix of Wayne's, Sergio's, and mine... What have I gotten myself into? Half way through the approach. Low in the C-J Couloir. Typical scrambling on the NE Buttress. Sussing it out. Me scrambling. Slide Alder! Wayne and I in the brush, low on the buttress. A look up at C-J col from low on the route. Sergio and I scrambling. Sergio on all fours. Me scrambling just below the bivy. Looking down to the parking lot from high on the NE Buttress. Sergio topping out on the sketchy pitch. The steep, sketchy pitch. Wayne and his Mountain House. Judging from what I witnessed aftwards, he should probably stay away from anything containing chili. Wayne and I at camp. Mt. Baker at dawn. Good morning! The view from our bivy. Starting out from the bivy site. Sergio starting up the snow arete just above our bivy site. Wayne and Sergio. Wayne, Sergio, and the magical arete. Sergio negotiates some crevasses. Wayne end-running the bergschrund. Sergio kicks steps up the steep headwall below the summit. Me near the top of the snow. Wayne about to top out just below the summit. Sergio and I ascending the arete. Sergio and I pause to take in the sights on the snow arete. Sergio and I on the upper arete. A crevasse on the upper arete. That's my car way down there! Sergio and I about to top out on the snow. Sergio and Wayne scrambling the final bit to the summit. Sergio gives his victory pose. Hidden Lake Peaks and Mt. Baker. The Cascade Pass parking lot as seen from the summit of Johannesburg. Thanks for the climb! Sunlit hills below Johannesburg. Views from the summit. Sergio scrambling near the summit on the descent. Me pondering life on the descent. Spider, Formidable, and the Middle Cascade Glacier. Wayne and I down climbing on the E Ridge. Rappelling above C-J Col. Sergio frolicking in fields of wildflowers. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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