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first ascent [TR] Mixup Peak - The Misunderstanding (FA) 10/25/2011

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Trip: Mix-up Peak - The Misunderstanding (FA)


Date: 10/25/2011


Trip Report:

Yesterday Forest McBrian, Dave Jordan, and I established a new line on Mixup Peak in North Cascades National Park. The route climbs the northeast face of the north summit and is partially visible from Cascade Pass. We had spotted the seasonal line last week while climbing on Sahale Peak and hoped that the weather would hold out long enough so we could sneak in an ascent. Fortunately the weather was with us and we had clear and cold temperatures immediately following a brief warm spell that included rain up high--this created perfect conditions on the climb.


The line climbs the center of the North Face.



Approaching the route (in upper right corner)





The route begins in a narrow gully that sits about 60 meters east of the obvious couloir that splits the face ( 2004 TR for that line). The first pitch set the tone for the route with excellent sticks in perfect snice, but a dearth of protection opportunities. Each of the following eight pitches were all rope stretching pitches, totaling almost 1800’ of climbing on the face. This route was both longer and more difficult than we had anticipated and is unusually sustained for a Cascades line--only two pitches didn’t have 55 degree or steeper terrain and all of them went straight up without any side-to-side deviation (except pitch two which moves about 15 meters right at mid-height). The belays were all sheltered from icefall, but close enough for good photos!


Pitch one



Pitch three (one of the easy pitches)



Pitch four



We found the crux to be surmounting a roof draped with icicles on pitch five and agreed that the pitch was undoubtedly the best pitch any of us had ever climbed in the mountains. Forest led it in impeccable style. Above the crux was an incredible ice chimney that led to yet another ice pitch and, finally, a short snow slope to the crest.


Pitch 5 crux



Following pitch 5 (Cascade Pass trail in upper left)



Following pitch 5's ice chimney



Pitch 7



Following pitch 7



The technical climbing ended at a small notch in the summit ridge where we took in an incredible view of Johannesberg and Formidable in amazing evening alpenglow. It was a perfect day in the mountains.





Gear Notes:

Knifeblades (4-6)

Cams (purple TCU to 3”), doubles to 1”

2-6 short screws

70m ropes, two ropes recommended in case of retreat.


Approach Notes:

Hike to Cascade Pass. Follow the trail onto Mixup Arm. The route starts about 60M east of the prominent couloir. It lies above a remnant snowfield that is obvious on the USGS map. An easy 2.5 hours to the base.


Descent Notes:

From the crest of the ridge at the notch, traverse on the west side of the ridge southwards towards the south/true summit for about two rope-lengths on shattered rock. Gain the first obvious notch and continue past it to the second notch. The rock quality in the second notch is noticeably better than along the crest. From here, we down-climbed the East Face to the Cache Glacier on steep snow to 55 degrees. Rappelling may be necessary in other conditions. From the Cache Glacier, traverse north and west around Mixup Arm and back to Cascade Pass. Here is a modified Scurlock photo ( original) showing the east face. We downclimbed just west/left of the ridge that lies just right of the center of the photo.


Special Notes:

We found that the route gets a tiny bit of sun until about eleven in the morning. Small amounts of spindrift and ice chunks came down during that time, but after the sun moved further south the debris stopped.


Due to the exceedingly compact nature of the rock, anchoring options were extremely limited and much time was spent finding anchors that frequently (and unfortunately) verged on being inadequate. Although we managed with 60m ropes, we strongly recommend bringing 70m ropes to potentially give more options for finding belay anchors.


Mix-up Peak, The Misunderstanding

IV, AI4R, M4

2200’ of climbing

Kurt Hicks, Dave Jordan, Forest McBrian

October 25, 2011

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Very cool. When you say this is a seasonal line you mean because the road will close? I know it's subject to change but how far were you guys able to drive?

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Very cool. When you say this is a seasonal line you mean because the road will close? I know it's subject to change but how far were you guys able to drive?


It's seasonal in that the route gets at least partially buried once more snow falls (Mix-up picture from Feb 2010); this will decrease the uniqueness of the climb and probably complicate finding suitable anchors too.


Access will also surely change when the road closes...we drove to the trailhead and hiked to Cascade Pass in tennis shoes!

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Bang up job! I have been telling everyone who will listen for the past decade that Cascade Pass is the place for late fall/early winter alpinism.

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You must have spyed something else whilst climbing this...I won't ask what, but looking forward to reading about it!


Nice job!






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