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Vernman23

first free ascent [TR] Mazama, WA - Goats Beard. FFA (Known). WI5 Grade IV/V 1/12/2013

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well done and well written. one of the most honest and non-chest thumping TR's I've ever read.

+1

 

seriously, awesome job, you guys! very impressive, intimidating-looking route!

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Does anyone know of any pure continuous waterfall ice climbs that are longer than 420m in North America?

Slipstream (950m), just off the top off my head.

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Climbed "the Goatee" today which is the lite version of the Beard due to multiple assassination attempts on p4. The first three pitches are soooo fat now – then hot temps and excessive ice fall had us feeling lucky to descend unscathed.

 

It is gonna bum me out to recount our attempt today but it may be educational to future ascentionists (and maybe therapeutic to me). A little background …after this climb was sent two weeks ago (proud work Vernman and Craig!), I have been pissed at myself for over-committing and being booked out months in advance without a weekend free (due to out of town playing) to get it. Two weeks of watching the Freestone Inn telemetry go below zero every night and barely hit the teens in the day was pure torture. With the end of the high pressure and a forecasted warm up, I had to stop the agony. Recruited my old partner Nozel from PDX and we decided that today was the perfect day – in between storms and ahead of the first above freezing temps. Images of plastic ice and moderate temps made me think that my overbooked schedule may have been a good thing, and an unannounced vacation day at work was in order.

 

Drove to the base last night, slept a lot and spent more than an hour this morning in my heated van drinking coffee and eating. Casual approach in low 20s temps, totally calm, dense fog, great partner, climbed every rock route on this wall, lots of beta from the previous climbers, etc., etc. I felt way less restless than when I approached for the 11+ rock climb (Restless Natives) under Goat’s Beard last fall. Rack up below fat, dry, solid pitch 1 which was fun WI3+.

 

Pitch 1:

 

P112.jpg

 

Michael ran out the rope 60M to put the belay below the long WI5 p2 crux as high as possible. P2 looked LONG and steep from afar:

 

P2_from_belay.jpg

 

but close up looked pretty moderate under the fat conditions we found (two long weeks of great temps after the FFA). I climbed through the steep part (maybe WI5- today?) and up another 30m to the base of p3. Another incredibly fun pitch on solid fat ice – very unusual for the PNW – classic and mellow.

 

P210.jpg

 

Set up the belay, inspected another fat pitch of WI3 above, looked at my watch and it was only 9:15, started to let my thoughts drift to making it home to dinner and wine with Moira and maybe even packing gear for the weekend. I had clove hitched in with at least ten feet so I could set the screws in good ice but avoid any falling ice from the left above. As I brought Michael up the first bombs came down from above (softball sized), barely missing me, which I thought was kind of random since it was so cold and stable.

 

Michael took the lead and due to the combination of ice he sent down and ice from above, I did a 270 degree dance around the anchor to get out of the way of continuous icefall.

As I followed the pitch, every few minutes I’d huddle in close to the ice, ducking for cover from more softball-sized ice chunks pouring over me. My hood filled with debris but I still assumed the climb was in the bag and this stuff was an anomaly. I soon broke out of the dense fog to a world of bright sun, soaring temps, and even vegetation poking out of holes in the ice with water running below.

 

Can you see where the fog ends and the sun begins?

 

Inversion.jpg

 

The sun felt really good at first, but I started to realize that rapping this thing in a few hours might be really dangerous. I reached Michael’s belay on the far right side of p4, confused about why we would be starting there when the obvious passage was 50 feet to the left, on the left side of the ice formation. He explained that curtains from above were breaking and raining down the left side of the flow.

With the visibility of being above the fog inversion layer, I could see how close the trees at the end of the climb were, but how much hangfire in the form of deathcicles and small curtains was above us.

 

Looking towards the hanging forest and the curtains of death:

 

Hangers.jpg

 

In addition, the ice went from solid and dry to sunbleached and wet – still climbable but new and degrading at the same time. Every few minutes, a curtain high above would break off and shower down the left side of p4. The climbing looked so easy that I knew I could cruise the 20m in the shooting gallery in a few minutes and hopefully avoid a pummeling. As I made my first foray leftward to test the ice (which was very wet for the first time on this climb), the first of many debris explosions hit the path of the climb. It was at this time that I couldn’t help but remember that anyone I had emailed or texted about my plans replied with a “be safe.” Why not a “kill it” or “make me proud,” “be strong”, “you rock” ?!?

 

We both agreed that the left way would be Russian Roulette. But the summit was so close, and we had so much time, that bailing made no sense. I decided that pushing a thin WI4 variation up the right side of p4 would be harder climbing, but obviously safer since we had seen nothing come down in this area. After only a bodylength up this variation, an especially long pummeling of debris had me humping the ice, wondering when it was going to stop, and brought up bad memories of an extended slough avy that finally removed me from a similar climb in AK. Suddenly, we both realized that it wasn’t about would we send this thing, but how could we possibly rap it without getting chopped.

 

We set a v-thread far climber’s right of the icefall and p3 below. This rap was designed to avoid the shooting gallery and get us down to the Restless Natives p4 anchors. The rap was out of harm’s way but then we pulled the ropes. The rope fully pulled, we had the knot, but the end of the second rope got stuck on the rock above (a familiar theme on this climb, it seems). In twenty years of climbing, I’ve never been unable to free a rope until today. To make matters worse, as I was packing last night I muttered something about not liking my tattered old twins and Moira suggested I take her newer half ropes. Great idea! Until… We ended up cutting the rope and shamefully leaving it waving above Restless Natives p4 to confuse future climbers who need to move the belay horizontally leftward 100 feet across the “seep area” (i.e., Goat’s Beard) to the base of the next rock pitch.

 

I remembered that the raps off Restless Natives were rope-stretching with a single 70, but rapping the ice wasn’t an option. To make a long story short, I was able to follow the rock raps down most of the way, but thank you Mr. Burdo for your fat half inch bolts when I needed to rap off a single bolt.

 

We reached the base in fog and back to mid-20 temps with occasional golf-ball sized debris falling from above (shrapnel from the ice basketballs exploding on the belay ledges above).

 

Summary: The first three pitches might be the highest quality ice I have climbed in the PNW and may be fat for days or weeks to come. Pitches 4-6 are still easily climbable, but should be attempted only in cloudy conditions with below freezing temps. They may return to safe and climbable conditions or may degrade back to nothing soon. This is an amazing climb and all the prior ascensionists got a great gift and should be proud. Future aspirants should not be overly concerned about the severity of the climbing on this awesome line but more the objective hazards from above.

 

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I experienced somewhat similar objective hazards a last week and noted that the climb was very sun affected and incredibly wet even in the early to mid-morning and quite degraded at about the level you mention but there was no fog bank that day. We saw one note-worthy ice fall in the afternoon after we finished and also rapped the rock route and avoided hangers where we could. The prior ascensionists I talked to didn't note this problem so i assumed i experienced a somewhap abberrant event, perhaps they had safer conditions by exploiting a wisp of cloud or slightly cooler temps (we climbed Tuesday following Vern and Craig's ascent). Regardless I was not willing to head back later that week for a repeat climb as planned with direct sunlight and similar weather forecasted.

 

Sorry about losing that fancy new cord but it obviously could have been worse.

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Craig and I felt that the climb was a bit sketchy due to potential ice fall. We also talked about how if this climb came in every year we would not be surprised if there were a hand full of epics on it. We also had full sun and warm temps in the afternoon, Craig was down to his base layer by pitch 5. Looked like following ascents had some cloud cover which makes a big difference. A bit more than a "casual day" if you don't hit conditions perfectly.

 

Glad everyone is safe. Sucks about the rope.

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I believe the phrase "goretex for your goretex" was used at one point to describe the ideal outfit for the last half of the route, and that was on a day where the air temp never rose above 20 degrees but the wall still became a waterfall. With a 70m rope we found very sheltered belays alcoves (although pouring with water) but some unavoidably exposed climbing.

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Farrgo,

 

Did you descend one of the rock routes the whole way way? We walked around on the forested ledge for a good amount of time trying to find a route to descend, but couldn't and ended up rappelling the ice.

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Does anyone know of any pure continuous waterfall ice climbs that are longer than 420m in North America? There are certainly alpine routes that offer more ice, but I am talking about waterfall ice. There are ice climbs like This House of Sky which claim 500m, but many of those long Canada gullies are broken up by periods of intermittent walking between ice steps. The internet widely claims Stairway to Heaven as North America's longest "continuous ice climb" at 365 meters. I am wondering if this may be the new longest continuous ice climb to date in N. America?

 

Mitre Might in Alaska is a stout 450m.

http://www.alaskaiceclimbing.com/mitremight.htm

 

http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web11w/newswire-mausolus

our route on mount mausolus in alaska had 700m of continuous waterice...not alpine ice.

 

No doubt though the GB is one of the longest. Looks awesome.

 

Nice ascent, dudes!

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We followed someone's established threads about half the time but were able to do two raps off a bolted route on climber's left (one off a single half-inch bolt, the second off a station with chains).

 

Additionally, unless we're completely mistaken, this route is a lot closer to 330m than 420m. Here's how we broke down the pitches:

 

P1 70m to a belay cave on left of crux pillar.

P2 50m to a rock belay on large snowfield to right of climb.

P3 70m to snowfield and belay in alcove on the right.

P4 70m to a cave belay to the left.

P5 70m to the trees.

 

The 70m pitches were long and the follower usually needed to move beneath the pitch but there was no simul-ing per.

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Not sure.

 

I thought we climbed it in 6 pitches with an unknown, but what seemed like a long ways of simul climbing in one portion. We had 60m ropes.

 

Maybe we were off.

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