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KaskadskyjKozak

[TR] Cannon - NW Ridge 6/15/2013

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Trip: Cannon - NW Ridge

 

Date: 6/15/2013

 

Trip Report:

 

With good weather on Saturday and iffy weather pretty much everywhere Sunday, I was inspired to do a long, mellow, non-technical scramble. I floated the idea to Gaucho Argentino who is currently on break from school. Having been on the couch, a mellow non-technical outing sounded appealing.

 

We car-camped at the Colchuck Lake TH and headed up just after dawn to beat the heat and ensure a summit with a non-epic return. We made short work of the road, which is crazy overgrown in several places, and started up the burn-out disaster area.

 

Gaucho embraces the suck just above the turnoff at the washout:

P1020555.JPG

 

Gaucho surveys the intervening obstacles between us and the summit ridge:

P10205641.JPG

 

We kind-of sort-of followed climber's trails and game trails up the ridge - intermittently losing one and finding another. Eventually we broke out on the glorious rock ridge with views of the North gully.

 

View of the N gully option from the ridge at about 6400'

P1020567.JPG

 

In its current state, the gully did not appeal to us, so we headed right and up the NW ridge. As we got to the top of the burn line snow patches were encountered. They were bullet proof, and expecting mostly-melted rock on the summit ridge, we were not keen on multiple gear adjustments, so we made efforts to wind through dirt patches. This tactic eventually proved futile as continuous snow was encountered high up and crampons were mandated.

 

Bullet-proof snow patches scattered amongst trees between 6900 and 7900 feet elevation:

P1020571.JPG

 

We topped out on the summit ridge at about 9:30. With a mile ridge walk we were stoked - this will take us what, one hour, one and half max? Well under the 6-8 hours in Smoot's guide book!

 

Arriving at the summit ridge after 4 hours (7900'):

P1020575.JPG

 

Gaucho looks ahead along the ridge - "It's a long way to the top..."

P10205801.JPG

 

As it turned out, there were quite a few snow patches along the summit ridge and along its sides. They were still bullet proof. Much route-finding shenanigans ensued. Hoping to stay crampon-less we spent a lot of time yo-yo-ing, mostly below and climber's right of the ridge top. Somehow we burned 3 hours with this bullshit and still had a bit more to go to the summit.

 

Where's Waldo? Looking back along most of the summit ridge:

P1020582.JPG

 

At this point we were running the top of the ridge and came to a final col before the last major obstacle between us and the final summit push. I did not see an obvious way straight up it, or to either side. Earlier we had considered abandoning the ridge for the snow above Coney Lake where a solitary boot path headed up a couloir. A brief burst of rage rose in me. Motherfucker. "We're doing the snow couloir" I stated angrily. I then scree surfed to the snow line, put on 'pons and hauled ass down and across the flat area below the couloir and started up it. Somehow I had energy for this part; Gaucho - not so much.

 

Gaucho running out of steam:

P1020586.JPG

 

The snow in the couloir was firm and made for easy climbing. Above it, on Druid Plateau, it was soft and the postholing proved too tedious for my taste so I wandered to the right where some rocks and dirt were melted out. Ignoring the damage to my crampon points, I moved up this slope with as much enthusiasm as I could muster (meaning zero) - until all dirt and rock was exhausted.

 

Finally! Approaching the summit block:

P1020587.JPG

 

I resigned myself to the postholing and moved up and left. This is truly the summit that never appears. Fucking-a. Finally, scrambling rock and trying not to get wedged in spaces between them on snow, I came to the block and spied a large angled rock. One of THOSE summits. Motherfucker. Crampons off. I go left - hmm smearing. I go right, a crack leads up high... still smearing. I return left and suck it up and scramble up to the precarious perch to admire views. Total time up? 8 hours from TH to summit.

 

Ladybug invasion on summit block:

P1020589.JPG

 

Temple Ridge behind Druid Plateau:

P1020594.JPG

 

Sherpa, Stuart make a mountain p0rn appearance:

P1020599.JPG

 

After an hour on the summit, with some refueling, we headed down.

 

Gaucho downclimbs the slope above Coney Lake:

P1020607.JPG

 

Cool looking rock on ridge facing the N couloir:

P1020611.JPG

 

The ridge traverse going back went a LOT quicker with us avoiding a repeat of shenanigans. Most of the once-bullet proof snow was now plenty soft - both along the ridge crest and on the forested slopes below it. Somehow we managed to follow game trails back the way we came and arrive at the washout. When the monotony became overwhelming, I put on Goat's Head Soup. Somehow "Dancing with Mr. D" and "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" seemed a propos.

 

The pounding, stabbing pain in the lower extremities upon reaching the car was unbelievable. Fortunately I had Lagunitas IPA on ice in my cooler. This trip required a two-beer analgesic for recovery.

 

Nelson thanked me and was especially grateful for this "mellow" and "non-technical" outing I had proposed for him off the couch and not in his best shape.

 

Gear Notes:

Ice axe, crampons, motivation.

 

Approach Notes:

Embrace the suck.

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I want to do Cannon soon but have decided to go in and out via Aasgard. Its quite a bit longer but I have never heard a good word said about the NW Ridge route.

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I want to do Cannon soon but have decided to go in and out via Aasgard. Its quite a bit longer but I have never heard a good word said about the NW Ridge route.

 

It's just a long ass day. I suppose you could haul packs to 6400 feet (nice bivy spots) and then the NW ridge would be a lot more mellow. But as a one day, you do have the advantage of knocking out in reasonable time (10-14 hours C2C)

 

FWIW the approach to the NW ridge is much better than the approach to the Mole.

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A few more pics...

 

Stuart from the approach

 

1-Stuart.jpg

 

 

 

KK negotiating branches... good times...

 

2-Stephen.jpg

 

 

Which way to go? Should stay kinda low on the right :-

)

3-The_ridge.jpg

 

 

KK on the top. That thing looks more like a turtle than a cannon...

 

4-Stephen.jpg

 

 

Yeap, definitely a turtle

 

5-Me.jpg

 

 

And finally, some panoramic views...

 

6-views.jpg

 

 

 

Even with the branches-wacking, kills studying anytime...

 

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I'm curious where you got on and off the ridge at on the way up. We dropped directly towards the lake then over flattish snow and up the same gully you went up. From the summit me decided to try to stay on the ridge coming down and managed to downclimb the on ledges and hidden chimneys to a col then decided to drop from there towards the lake on steep scree and snow, bypassing much of the ridge.

 

Nice pictures. I agree - turtle.

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I'm curious where you got on and off the ridge at on the way up. We dropped directly towards the lake then over flattish snow and up the same gully you went up. From the summit me decided to try to stay on the ridge coming down and managed to downclimb the on ledges and hidden chimneys to a col then decided to drop from there towards the lake on steep scree and snow, bypassing much of the ridge.

 

Nice pictures. I agree - turtle.

 

We got on the ridge right above the timbered slope on climber's right of the N couloir. It's the rocky area you see from way down low on the approach.

 

We dropped onto snow at the minor col below the final rocky buttresss/false summit that blocks and is in between the col and the final summit block. In other words, we dropped onto snow at almost the last possible moment.

 

 

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