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[TR] Chehalis Range, BC - Grainger Peak - J Cracks 7/9/2013

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Trip: Chehalis Range, BC - Grainger Peak - J Cracks


Date: 7/9/2013


Trip Report:

Some googleing prior to our Chehalis trip revealed little in the way of recent approach beta for Grainger Peak, so we thought it worthwhile to report on our recent adventure.


The area is seeing a lot of logging these days, and we passed by numerous loaded logging trucks. Be prepared for some dusty roads and drive carefully! We turned off highway 7 onto Morris Valley Road continued following the main road until hitting the Mystery Creek - Chehalis FSR, at the bottom of a steep switchback hill. We turned west onto this (still lots of logging trucks) and continued for ~ 8 km to the bottom of a steep hill and a T intersection. There's an old decaying car on the left side of the road here. Turn right. (From here, its a few hundred metres to the old road from which the Statlu Lake trail departs. See http://www.clubtread.com/routes/Route.aspx?Route=68 for a description of that trail.) This area has seen a lot of recent logging so we were able to continue for a couple of kms into a new cutblock in the spot where the old road used to cross Eagle Creek (the bridge there has long since washed out). We parked here after getting the ok from a guy driving some logging equipment a lot more badass than our F150. He kindly pointed out there was a nice hiking trail to Statlu Lake just over there, and clearly thought we were crazy when we responded that, actually, we were heading into the bush towards Grainger. Total distance from Hwy 7 was 52 km.


The old road across Eagle Creek was barely recognizable but we forged through alder and devils club (which will turn out to be the theme of the trip) to reach Eagle Creek at a spot shallow enough to cross by foot. From the west bank of Eagle Creek, we bushwhacked uphill to intersect the logging road heading north towards Grainger Peak. The road was easy to follow, although overgrown by alder and washed out in parts. We were glad we didn't bother with the mountain bikes.



(A better section of the road, looking towards Grainger Peak)


We continued along this road with one notable creek crossing on a large old log to the left of the road (some flagging), until hitting Eagle Creek and what would have been a boots-off crossing. We realized here that we wanted to stay on the west side of the creek, and so we back tracked a few hundred metres to an open area where a more overgrown road forked off west. We turned up this and hiked for another kilometre or so, with increasing overgrowth, until the first switch back left up towards Nursery Pass. Here the "trail" leaves the road trending gently up across a slide path.


After the initial slide path, we re-entered forest and easier hiking for a few hundred meters to a creek carved into the bedrock. We crossed the creek and then headed uphill in the forest on the opposite side. It's key to gain a bit of elevation in the forest here before entering another wide slide path of heinous bushwhacking interspersed with talus.



(The talus was a welcomed reprieve from thick alder and devils club in this slide path.)


There are some cairns in the talus and *faint* trails in spots throughout the alder, but this part of the trip was described as "soul-sucking" by a member of our party. Eventually we reached the other side of the wide slide path and re-entered the timber where the hiking became much easier. Here, the "trail" trends uphill across the slope and is flagged with tape and the occasional old axe mark in a tree.


We emerged from the woods with a glorious view of the alpine bowl below Grainger and Nursery. From here, we could clearly see the ramp that leads from right to left up the slabs below the south ridge of Grainer, and our bivy spot on the ridge above that.




The ramp looked somewhat intimidating from this vantage point, with water cascading over it, but it turned out to be the easy part of gaining the snowfield above. The difficultly came in ascending the steep heather and blueberry bushes on the left side of the ramp (a small taste of Chehalis 'vertical bushwhacking').



(The ramp was easier to ascend than it looked.)


Eventually, we stepped onto snow and gained the ridge running south from Grainger, where there were plenty of great bivy spots to choose from.



(Stepping onto snow with the south face of Grainger in the background.)




The next morning we racked up and made the short 20 minute walk to the base of the climbs on the south face. We had downgraded our initial goal of climbing Beat the System (D+ 5.11a) and settled on J Crack-Route 3 (D+ 5.10), described as "one of the best climbs on Grainger" in McLane's guide. The first pitch up the J-shaped crack (~45 m) was indeed spectacular.



(First pitch of J cracks.)


At the top of the J-crack, we moved right to a short wide crack (4") behind a block, and then to more broken terrain above. The climbing was still pretty fun at this point, with lots of options for protection but after that things broke down a bit. On the third pitch, I headed too far left and ended up in a corner with bottoming cracks and little protection just left of a fin. Luckily I was climbing with folks much better than I who were able to get us out of the mess, but not without some shenanigans that ended in us deciding to bail somewhere around the top of pitch 4. The terrain was a lot more loose and blocky than we had anticipated from the route description and looking from the base, which resulted in us getting the rope royally stuck once.



(Rapping off.)


We made it down to the base eventually, and called it a day. Alas, Grainger got the better of us on this one.



The next morning we woke to howling winds and thick fog. We had a leisurely breakfast in the tent, delaying having to pack up the wet gear and bushwhack our way home. The only thing better than a real coastal 'swhack is a coastal 'swhack in the rain.



(The descent was...unpleasant. But the sun was out and the beer cold in the creek when we got to the end, so not so bad after all.)


All in all, Grainger may offer some rewarding pitches for those who are prepared for some bushwhacking and 2 hours hiking for every pitch of climbing. :P I'm not sure we'll be going back soon, but it was a beautiful place with lots to offer.



Gear Notes:

Shotgun and bear bangers.


We had an ice axe, but snow was soft enough it wasn't really necessary. Might have wanted it for the descent snow gulley, which we didn't get to.


Single BD3 handy for wide first pitch of J cracks.


Approach Notes:

Google track of the drive: https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=213281932776468760378.0004e15ced4d4f5dedeb3


Bivy spot @ Latitude:49.57681 Longitude:-122.07379


Edited by coastal 'swhack
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I climbed J Crack last summer, then walked over to Nursery Pass, along the ridge from Grainger and bivied there for a night to climb Clarke, but the weather moved in so we walked back to truck down Nursery Pass.


Nursey Pass trail is no longer, but the Grainger trail is good. You just walk along the statlu lake trail, across the newly built bridge then instead of going to the lake you go right on good roads. Personally, I thought it was in good condition. The route itself was solid and clean and we walked down the South ridge back to camp.


I think its a worthy weekender, but I would bivy below the ramp, its a bit of a thrash to get up to the snow with full packs, plus there is running water.


Good on ya for getting out, next time for sure :)



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