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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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Trip: Mazama, WA - Goats Beard. FFA (Known). WI5 Grade IV/V

 

Date: 1/12/2013

 

Trip Report:

Going into this weekend I was full of uncertainty. I was not sure where I wanted to go or what would be in. Craig Gyselinck and I had made plans to get on Goats Beard in Mazama. Then a get a FB message from Craig Pope about going in to Strobach....hmmm decisions, decisions. I knew that its been about 20 years since there was a second ascent (Known) of Goats Beard but I also know that going into Strobach with Craig would mean getting some FA’s. The fact that Strobach comes in just about every year and Goats Beard comes in maybe ever 20 years the choice was fairly obvious.

 

According to Washington State Ice Goat’s Beard was first climbed in the early 90’s going at Grade V, WI 5/5+, 5.9, A2. As far as I know it has not seen a complete second ascent. Goat’s Beard has shut down some of the best climbers in the world. Things were not looking all that good for us.

 

I met Craig G. at the Park and Ride at 4:15 and off we were to Mazama. As we drove the temps dropped more and more. I think in both of our minds was the thought that we were going to drive up there and for some reason we would be climbing some place else today. As we drove further and further up towards Mazama we watched the temperature gauge on the car drop from 16 down to zero.

 

Craig ask me, “Does your temperature gauge go below zero?”

 

“I don’t know. Don't think I have ever taken the car anywhere that cold.”

 

A second later it drops to -1. We both laugh, but know it might be getting to the point of too cold to climb.

 

As we progress we talk about other options. Both knowing there is really only one option at this point. By the time we park the car its -6.

 

We throw on Rage Against Machines and try to get pumped. Im just tired and if not for Craig I would have fallen asleep in the car and waited for sun.

 

That always seems to be the key to a good partnership, who can bring the stoke when the other person is tired or sketched. Craig got me out of the car, up the first pitch and then somewhere in the middle we switched roles. Everyone has their parts on a trip. On this particular trip they were fulfilled.

 

In the early dawn we get a few ok looks at the route and start walking. Snowshoes were a must, we find soft untracked snow. My mind drifts back to the simpler times in life (before I found ice climbing) and thinking how much fun it would be to snowboard down this soft untracked snow we are snowshoeing up.

 

Its cold and we push on. The sun comes out we get a good look at the climb. F^&k the second crux pillar is not in...dreams pretty much gone. We have a small rock rack. Craig claims that he will “aid it even if he has to do it with ice screws”.

 

We continue.

 

We get a good look at the route and I notice a small corner that appears to be holding ice. I dub it “Nelson’s Corner”, stoke is back on, we continue at a faster pace of excitement... We slow down so we don’t start sweating. We both know that wet clothing could quickly end the attempt in -6 degree air.

 

We gear up and are climbing by 8am. Craig starts out on the first pitch. Stuff starts falling down. Im concerned. Alex said, “In the winter of 2000, climbers watched as over 300 feet of the route toppled to the ground. No doubt this is a dangerous but spectacular climb...” Craig seems to be ok with how things are and I focus on how to second most efficient...less time we can spend on this route the better.

 

Craig climbs a rope stretching 60m pitch and I follow. I get the first crux pitch. A thin curtain that looks ok from below. I start up and instantly become less confident. I know I have the ability to climb it but I don’t know if this mountain is going to allow me to do so. The ice is thin, no good purchase. Any minute I feel as though both feet or both tools could rip through the ice. Screws are pretty much worthless. Any good sticks come with a hollow thud and the whole thing shakes...Breathe, breathe, shake the mind demons, climb.

 

I finish the curtain, I'm gripped. I tell Craig that he better not climb it and tell me it was easy. My pitch leads up another full 60 meters. I set up my belay in a small gully, not the best location but where is on this route? I throw Craig on, he comes up. The whole time I am thinking about the stuff hanging above our heads. The sun is now out and I feel as though we are in a pretty risky situation.

 

What do you do if your partner dies with the rope? At least he got to go quick...I get to freeze...up rope think about the next pitch.

 

Craig takes P3 for another 60 meters to a rock belay. We talk for a second then decide we should move quick. There is lots of stuff hanging above us and we want to get by it. The plan is for me to lead up to “Nelson’s Corner” get a belay in and Craig gets that pitch. He keeps the rock gear. Up I go. The ice is not great, cauliflower, pro is useless in this ice, 60m takes me bellow the hangers...no good ice, no safe belay. Rope goes tight.

 

“We have to SIMUL!!!”

 

“WHAT?”

 

“YOU HAVE TO CLIMB!!!”

 

Slack in the rope. We begin to simul. I go up through “Nelson’s Corner”, one ok screw, ice is getting warm. I wish I had the rock gear. Long run outs, if Craig falls I'm dead...breathe, trust, breathe...

 

30m of no good pro simul climbing brings me to a belay cave that I quickly flop into. Blast screws bring up Craig.

 

We are both tired. Water and gu in the cave. Craig’s lead. He gets the first good look at the final crux pillar.

 

“Craig, how does it look!?”

 

“Hard!!!”

 

Thats all I get hard? For those of you who know Craig it is probably a lengthy response.

 

60m and he brings me up. I get my first look at the final pitch. It looks hard...WI5 shape and no telling from where we are how consistent it is. If its any thing like the first curtain we need a plan B. Craig is about ready to bail...its to hard we are not worthy.

 

Time for me to bring the psych.

 

I gear up and climb...Its hard...have to earn all my own sticks, no drafting here...tired...top out the crux stoked!!! Follow lower angled ice to the trees. Rope goes tight right as I get to the tree. Craig said he was worried that he was going to have to Simul the crux.

 

Small celebration ensues but short lived. We still have to get down.

 

We wander over and hope to find some bolts to rap off. No luck...back to the trees and back down into the danger zone.

 

Things go smooth. Craig hits his V threads. We make a meandering rap down “Nelson’s Corner”. Blast in a thread.

 

“Pulling orange correct?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“It is not pulling.”

 

“Maybe it’s blue.”

 

We know its not blue but we are in the most dangerous part of the route. We need a hope. Nothing. We both know what has to be done...neither of us want to do it...

 

“I’ll climb up and see if I can change the angle and get it free.”

 

“Clip into the strand so at least if you fall you’ll fall to me and not die.”

 

Thanks Craig.

 

Up I go to try and free the rope. No luck. Go up a bit more...no luck...

 

“F(*K!”

 

I know what is going to have to be done. Im going to have to essentially solo the corner again. I don’t know if I have it in me. But what other options do we have?

 

I look closer I notice the ropes running under a small hanger. Blue rope is tight above it and loose below it. Grab blue, pull, orange moves, grab orange it pulls!

 

“F*(K YES!!!”

 

“Whats wrong?”

 

“Nothing rope is free!!!”

 

Ecstatic!!! “F(&KING ROPE IS FREE!!!” Down we go.

 

Few more raps go well. We find bolts and take advantage of it.

 

Right at dark we are down. Smiles ensue. We both feel like we stole something. With all the objective hazardous that this route presents that you can not eliminate we did steal something.

 

Back to the car to find a note on the car that upped the stoke, “ CONGRATS! THAT’S PROBABLY ONLY THE 2ND COMPLETE ASCENT OF THE BEARD!”

 

We drive back. We are happy 400+ Meters of constant ice. We rate it at WI5 Grade IV/V.

 

Craig says he’s quitting ice, cant climb anything to top this. I have heard it before...I smile...

 

71536_10100394479876220_685478551_n.jpg

 

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First Crux pillar/curtain above

 

555399_10100394479866240_696286951_n.jpg

 

555325_10100394480090790_1060999236_n.jpg

 

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Final Crux Pillar

 

379261_10100394480160650_790098735_n.jpg

 

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Craig tilts the photos the complete opposite of most people.

 

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Happy!

 

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Note left on car

 

 

 

Gear Notes:

Screws, small assortment of rock pro (pins, nuts and small cams).

 

Approach Notes:

Snowshoes a must. Trail is well established now.

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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?

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Congrats, well done Vern and Craig!!! Way to get out and seize the opportunity. I wanted to get on that route today but couldn't find a partner.

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well done and well written. one of the most honest and non-chest thumping TR's I've ever read. I totally empathize with Criag's comment on quitting ice, fear of success is common when doing the hard grades - this tr makes me want to go rockclimbing.

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AMAZING!

 

If this wasn't a bad week at work, I'd be skipping out for a go at that. That route is more inspiring than Yosemite's Widow's Tears before global warming took off.

 

Nice send guys!

I've seen it in partially iced conditions and it has that air of Canada's unrepeated Theft in Lillooet.

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way to work it. route received a repeat ascent after you, too. way to keep the stoke alive.

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Great job Vern and Craig. Thanks for sharing your beta with us Saturday night.

 

Climbed this Sunday with Jess Roskelley and Daniel Harro; we found it rather enjoyable and safe. No simulclimbing... no runouts... just a nice casual multipitch route in WA of all places.

 

We did it car to car as a team of three in 8 hours including a very stuck rope on one rap so though this might have been a grade V in 1991 in present day with modern screws and all ice conditions this route is a grade III at most. I'm basing that on having climbing routes including Ames Ice Hose (grade III), Stairway to Heaven (grade III), Bird Brain Boulevard (grade IV), and Polar Circus (grade V) among others.

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I will semi-agree with John on the grade of "III". Sounds like John and Co. found much more favorable conditions than we did (not full sun). It took all day for Craig and I dark to dark (perhaps we are slow). We had different conditions, really ZERO beta of the route, no drafting pick holes, no idea if it would go and placing all our own V-threads. Its a full day adventure which according to Wiki is a IV. So I could see a III or IV.

Two fast moving parties have climbed it. I would hate to call it a III (half day climb) and have people epic. Not that its our responsibility to look out after them. Most of the data that I took was from the book with out much thought. Im ok with "III" though (if thats even appropriate since its not an alpine climb?). "III" grades have changed as they should and John is most likely right on the "III" and right that it was a fun climb! Im glad that it came out and that people got on it!

 

 

All I really know is it was a fun climb with a really good friend who did A LOT of work scouting and spent a lot of time checking conditions. I was happy that he shared it with me and allowed me along.

 

"The rules of the game must be constantly updated to keep up with the expanding technology. Otherwise we overkill the classic climbs and delude ourselves into thinking we are better climbers than the pioneers." -Yvon Chouinard

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Ice grades are strange... just flip through JoJos Waterfall Ice book (which I will gladly sell for the going rate of $2000). The Sorcerer is a 3-pitch Grade IV and Whiteman Falls is a 2-pitch Grade IV. Those grades make are nonsense and in fact if use them as a benchmark then this climb is probably solid grade VI if not even VII! It's probably best to not even apply alpine grades to crag routes.

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Except that jojo clearly states in his book that he is using a different definition for the grades whereby approach, avalanche and serac hazard, length, and other factors all contribute to the grade. He never suggests that his roman grades are equivalent to the classic alpine usage.

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True however he is still using time as the main determinate for the grades i.e., grade III and IV being long multipitch routes taking several hours to most of the day to complete and being modified by other factors. A grade V isn't a grade V just because its under a serac... its a grade V because it is "a long climb that requires a competent party all day to complete."

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Shaun and I got it today on this amazing and fun route. We agreed that fun should be allowed in grading climbs. We rate it grade 10 , WI16.

It is still growing in size and will see gobs more ascents. Chance of a lifetime route!

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Great job Vern and Craig. Thanks for sharing your beta with us Saturday night.

 

Climbed this Sunday with Jess Roskelley and Daniel Harro; we found it rather enjoyable and safe. No simulclimbing... no runouts... just a nice casual multipitch route in WA of all places.

 

We did it car to car as a team of three in 8 hours including a very stuck rope on one rap so though this might have been a grade V in 1991 in present day with modern screws and all ice conditions this route is a grade III at most. I'm basing that on having climbing routes including Ames Ice Hose (grade III), Stairway to Heaven (grade III), Bird Brain Boulevard (grade IV), and Polar Circus (grade V) among others.

 

Thanks John for keeping it real!

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Ice grades are strange... just flip through JoJos Waterfall Ice book (which I will gladly sell for the going rate of $2000). The Sorcerer is a 3-pitch Grade IV and Whiteman Falls is a 2-pitch Grade IV. Those grades make are nonsense and in fact if use them as a benchmark then this climb is probably solid grade VI if not even VII! It's probably best to not even apply alpine grades to crag routes.

The time it takes to do a route is just a part of it. It's also objective danger and difficulties with placing gear. Take Nemesis and Curtain Call- same length, Nemesis mostly easier then the other, Nemesis is full grade up due to location. Take Riptide- a great route WI4, WI3 and WI5/5+. Grade 6. We did it as a party of 3 in about 8 hours car to car, with filming on the route.

 

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