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[TR] Lane Peak 4.14.12 - The Zipper 4/15/2012

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Trip: Lane Peak 4.14.12 - The Zipper


Date: 4/15/2012


Trip Report:

The weather for Saturday continued to look better as the week went by so Jeff, Justin and I figured with the lack of snow fall over the last week and the warm temperatures the Zipper would be a great objective. We met at Longmire at a quarter to 7 and fastidiously waited for the park Ranger to open the gate up to Paradise. At 7:04 we headed up to the Narada Falls parking lot and geared up for the climb.



The Zipper is the left leaning couloir that is hidden from view.


One gets their first looks at the north aspect of Lane peak after ascending the hill past the parking lot and on first glance all the couloirs on Lane look intimidatingly steep, but this is often the case with distance and snow cover so we plodded on down through the woods to the creek basin, found a crossing, and marched up to the top of the snow cone that lead to the Zipper couloir. On the approach the snow was reasonably firm and snowshoes were beneficial. Once we neared the top of the cone we started to break through the crust to some loose corn snow. Since this was about knee deep we decided that roping up wasn’t necessary and we would all just solo it. After letting another couple that had the same objective lead out, the three of us began the roughly 1000 foot 45-50 degree ramp to the col, each with one tool and an axe. The time was roughly 9 am.






The climb is a great line with a stellar view of Rainier in your rear view throughout. Along the way the snow switched between soft powder to neve to the unconsolidated corn. At times I would be able to get a solid placement with the pick of my tool in one hand and have to bury the axe the hilt in the other. The variable snow kept you searching for the most solid line. About two hours after starting the couloir we topped out, took in the impressive views of Adams and Rainier, and continued up the ridge to the summit.



Jeff & Justin ascending the final portion.


The snow up to the ridge was vastly different than that in the couloir, compacting nicely and good for steps. When we got to the ridge proper we set a running belay for the 30 meter traverse. Once across it was clear that the protection wasn’t necessary, but it looked sketchy so why not. The three of us crowded around the small summit block and snacked while taking in the views. This was the first time in four tries that I had been able to see Rainier from the Tatoosh and it was magnificent.



The final ridge.





Clouds had started to roll in throughout the day, but were only passing. The weather was fantastic: warm with a light breeze and sun. We took our time on the summit then headed back to the col to collect the rest of our stuff and descend to the Lane/Denman saddle, now about 1 pm. We had talked about tagging either Denman or Plummer depending on time/conditions/desire. It looked like an easy walk up to Denman so we dropped our packs and were on top 26 minutes later. Again the views were great, one of the nicest days in the mountains I have had this early in the season.



Looking back at Lane from Denman.



Denman Summit.


We toyed with the idea of running over to Plummer, but decided to pack it in because of other obligations in the evening. The warm sun had prepped the slopes for some fantastic glissades that brought us back down to the creek in just over an hour. After that, all that was left was the slog back up to the road and then down the slope to the parking lot. We were back at the cars by 4 pm and headed for Eatonville to grub on some Mexican food. The Zipper is a great alpine line that I will definitely do many more times. Given the array of snow conditions in the couloir it seems safe to say it will never be exactly the same each time.


All photos can be seen here.



Gear Notes:

One Axe, One tool, snowshoes, crampons, pickets for the traverse, sunscreen.


Approach Notes:

Short approach with great rewards.

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