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[TR] Petunia Peak and Sweat Spire - 9/1/2012

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Trip: Petunia Peak and Sweat Spire -

 

Date: 9/1/2012

 

Trip Report:

With summer break coming to an end for my high school age son, he and I decided on an adventure in the Olympics. Our goal was to climb Sweat Spire (7580' according to the Olympic Mountains Climbing Guide) in the Needles above Royal Basin. Unfortunately no permits were available on Labor Day weekend in the upper or lower basins so we added to our fun by approaching from outside the park via Goat Lake and added Petunia Peak to our itinerary. This is on the ridge to the east of Royal Basin.

 

Mid-day Saturday we headed up the Dungeness Trail to Camp Handy (3100') and then crossed the meadow there towards the Dungeness river. After some brush bashing we found a log across the river:

img_28361.jpg

 

We headed north along the west side of the river looking for the way-trail that heads steeply up toward Goat Lake. This trail climbs 2800' in 1.8 miles, much of the time alongside a large gash in the hillside which is visible from the vicinity of Camp Handy. Much rock debris in the woods indicated we were below the landslide-caused gash and soon we found the trail.

img_2846.jpg

 

Goat Lake (5922') was beautiful but we pushed on to the tarn at 6320' just below Petunia Peak. Goat Lake:

img_28561.jpg

 

Here's the northeast side of Petunia Peak from the tarn:

img_2863.jpg

 

The OMCG route is up class 2 scree from the northwest. But it looked like we could head up class 3 ledges on the east face and with some class 4 moves gain the north ridge:

img_28571.jpg

 

Easy scrambling led to the summit by about 6pm:

img_28622.jpg

 

After a quiet night camping at the tarn we arose in the dark and got ready for the descent to Royal Basin down steep scree slopes. We climbed up away from the tarn and reached the ridge at 6520' as day broke. The view across the basin toward the Needles revealed the spire which appeared impossibly distant (right of center on horizon above a snow field). We both spoke of the definition of "adventure" which includes the concept of an uncertain outcome.

img_28661.jpg

 

Sweat Spire:

img_2868.jpg

 

After some traversing across rock below Petunia,down we went:

img_2870.jpg

 

We arrived at Royal Lake a little after 8AM.

img_2872.jpg

 

We took the camp trail past the ranger's tent towards the water cascade west of the lake. We ascended boulder fields, talus, and scree towards the moraine at the end of Surprise Basin.

img_2873.jpg

 

Cresting the moraine revealed that the basin was full of hard snow. We stashed our packs, donned crampons and set off for the upper end of the snow just below the head of the basin. Picture is taken from upper end looking back down Surprise Basin at the moraine:

img_2877.jpg

 

We left our ice axes and crampons at the start of OMCG route 1B for Mt Johnson. Following the obvious ledge that ascended southerly across the lower slopes of Johnson led to a couple of loose rock-filled gullies alternating with 3rd class climbing to the first 5th class pitch below Sweat Spire and Gasp Pinnacle. (It appears the names of the two are switched in a few of the pictures of these spires. If Sweat Spire is the higher of the two as stated in OMCG, then it is the slender spire to the south of pitch 1 and Gasp Pinnacle is to the north.) This pitch was 30m of low 5th climbing with one move that was mid-5th. The holds were pretty solid but the route was littered with loose rock. I brought my son up and it was 2pm-- the latest that we had agreed we would start up the spire itself. "Should we go?" he asked. "Sure," I said. Our drop-dead for-certain turn around time was 3pm. Surely we could climb this last pitch in an hour.

 

We headed towards the flake that starts the 90' class 5.2 route up Sweat Spire. This follows the rib above the southwest facing gully. The climbing was probably harder than listed in the OMCG which is not unusual. The rock was good, and there were adequate protection options but it took some excavating of loose rock at times to reveal them. Once on top, I brought my son up and he reached the belay at exactly 3pm.

 

The webbing and cord on top looked quite old-- maybe even 10 years old. I placed my own webbing around a horn and we rapped off. I thought of cleaning the old webbing up but clouds were starting to come in we were going to be hiking out in the dark as it was. I left the mess for the next climbers. We cramponed down Surprise Basin as clouds enveloped the peaks, picked up our packs and started the hike out reaching the trailhead at 11pm. It was a fine adventure.

 

On summit of Sweat Spire:

2012-09-02_15-03-15_513.jpg

 

Surprise Basin and Upper Royal Basin from the summit:

2012-09-02_15-03-31_903.jpg

 

Cramponing down with clouds chasing us:

img_28761.jpg

 

 

 

 

Gear Notes:

60m rope, light alpine rack, extra slings, crampons, ice axe.

 

Approach Notes:

Upper Dungeness Trailhead - 2500'

Camp Handy - 3100'

Tarn below Petunia Peak - 6320'

Petunia Peak - 6953'

Royal Lake - 5100'

Sweat Spire - 7580'

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Nice work Bob! You've been busy this summer doing Olympics "classics" (when you're not brush crashing in the Quilcene).

 

Yeah, we noticed the day the new book got published that there was a photo which had Gasp and Sweat reversed in the description.

 

As Oly said we were up there 2 years ago (or was it 3..?) and placed a small film canister and, I think?, a new piece of webbing. Stuff can age fast up there.

 

Great TR.

 

John

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