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lunger

first ascent [TR] Black Peak's West Peak - NW ridge (and N Buttress) IV 5.7ish - FLA 7/21/2012

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Trip: Black Peak's West Peak - NW ridge (and N Buttress) IV 5.7ish - FLA

 

Date: 7/21/2012

 

Trip Report:

Rolf Larson and I climbed this route on Saturday. We are not aware of previous ascents—and speculate this could be a first and last ascent, aka FLA.

 

This 3,000' ridge/buttress climb impressed me when Dan Helmstadter and I were en route to a ski of Black Peak's (East and main summit) NW Face.

 

Pic from my May ski trip with Dan:

IMG_12671.JPG

 

Pic from a climb/ski of Arriva a week before, early May. W Peak is on right, and the long buttress/ridge extending toward the viewer is what we climbed:

IMG_1234.JPG

 

It looked so classic, the long ridge with steep walls falling off to a glacier, ending in a high and scenic N Cascades summit.

 

And it was. Classic. Uber-mega-meta-classic. Much better than any Internet meme. Sorta like the N. Ridge of Stuart (only longer) combined with the Torment-Forbidden Traverse (only steeper), and a High-Priest-like blockheaded finish. Purity of line, quality of rock, a graceful climbing partner: these are things devoutly to be wished. The pictures don’t do it justice, one must experience the climb for one’s self; a tonic for the soul, as Rolf might say. But probably not.

 

Looking at the limited pics, we thought there could be some steep, more-difficult climbing. We were loaded for bear and a bivy—rope, a medium rack, light bivy gear, a stove, climbing shoes, and too much food. All but the rope ended up training weight—we made 2 raps, but otherwise the stuff stayed in the packs while we rambled up the scenic ridge, with lots of 3rd and 4th class scrambling, and difficulties up to 5.7 or so. As is often the case, the most difficult climbing usually occurred on the best rock.

 

The approach was made over the northern col between Black and its 8395’ point to the north. Spicy downclimbing ensued to snow, then finally to the base c. 5800’ after running under looming seracs. The pics tell the rest of the story; this thing was long.

 

Our first look during the approach, from the col:

IMG_1845.JPG

 

Near the start (from these humble beginnings), poor pic:

IMG_1860.JPG

 

Looking down initial stretch; photo doesn’t show considerable exposure here:

IMG_1861.JPG

 

Still much to do:

IMG_1873.JPG

 

We passed this gendarme on its right, but in retrospect would’ve enjoyed going over it

IMG_1879.JPG

 

On the torment-forbidden-esqe section (Rolf’s photo):

IMG_1886.JPG

 

Still more to go:

IMG_1887.JPG

 

Gramps hikes up his britches

IMG_1895.JPG

 

Rappin’

IMG_1900.JPG

 

The rock quality suffers no comparison.

IMG_1905.JPG

 

And gets even better:

IMG_1906.JPG

 

 

final summit block

IMG_1912.JPG

 

Hard to believe this was a ski slope a couple months ago

IMG_1919.JPG

 

Some more scenics and action shots are here.

 

We enjoyed this route, but as subtly hinted, were hoping for more difficult lines along the way. Still, motoring up a long climb is always a splendid way to spend a day.

 

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Yeah Lunger!!!! You continue to amaze and inspire. Too bad it turned out to be so chill- I was hoping to read about you and Rolf bickering as that always makes me laugh.

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Sorta like the N. Ridge of Stuart (only longer) combined with the Torment-Forbidden Traverse (only steeper), and a High-Priest-like blockheaded finish. Purity of line, quality of rock, a graceful climbing partner

 

whoa! pile on the superlatives!

excellent report, dudes!

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Nice matching green shirts! Glad the routefinding difficulties were limited to the urban environment.

 

Excellent writeup as always.

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Nice work gentlemen!

 

Blake sent me a shot of this ridge about 5 years ago and it's been sitting in my backburner folder ever since. Nice to see it get sent!

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Looks like something I would do.

What is the L part of FLA? loving?

 

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no wayne: laconic.

we actually invoked your name, thinking it was your kinda thing--you should repeat it but proper-like by hitting all the high points.

to other interested parties: there appear to be steeper approach options coming straight up from (appropriately sheltered places) below the seracs; would add quite a few pitches of challenging climbing.

to add to the enticement, there are really cool bivy sites at various places along the ridge.

 

haha tanstaafl! routefinding difficulties were the theme of the day, but none so tough as navigating Ballard.

 

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an appropriately hyperbolic donkey douche description of a classic northwest pile. definitely a fine day of immersion.

 

we were a little over 6hr on the route itself so grade III in my bickering opinion. probably IV if you pitch some of it out and/or directly climb the 2 steps we easily skirted due to concerns about time and forecasted incoming wx.

 

 

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hadn't really thought hard re: the grade, but III or III+ is fine by me. suppose threw up the IV 'cause have climbed grade IV's (and even a grade V) quicker. as you say probably depends on whether you solo the whole thing or pitch out some...

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Cool beans Youth(s)! Thanks for the photographic evidence. And so many words.

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I'll let Lunger confirm, but I'm pretty sure what he means by that is that he isn't recommending it as a great climb worthy of many repeats. That isn't to say someone won't have fun doing so, as fun is a subjective measurable. That said, these pictures look nicer than my office window right now.

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But that doesn't match his description of the route, which sounds classic and of a high quality. Maybe he means first and most recent? Because there's no way that's going to be its last ascent ;)

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