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sambataro

first ascent [TR] Waddington Range - Bicuspid Tower - FA of "On a Recky" 7/23/2013

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Trip: Waddington Range - Bicuspid Tower - FA of "On a Recky"

 

Date: 7/23/2013

 

Trip Report:

This is the follow up to Ben's McNerthney Pillar trip report. I was waiting to confirm some details of past routes on the face and I got backlogged getting my place ready to sell here in Boulder so we can move back home to Washington. It’s time to end my 5-year hiatus from the Cascades!

 

And for the record, that jump shot with Peter Rabbit only took one go…

[img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3686/9556712328_58681c0bd1.jpg[/img]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now then, after a much-celebrated rest day wandering around in the hot sun after coming down from Waddington, Ben and I went on a reconnaissance trip to scout out the Stilletto Glacier approach and potential new lines on Dentiform Peak. With Bicuspid Tower as a secondary objective for the day, we planned to leave a rope and rack at the base for a full attempt the following morning. The idea was that with the path dialed and lighter packs the next day, the approach could be done in 1.5 hours. I had called Graham Zimmerman from the sat phone the day before to see what he knew of routes up there. I just happened to catch him after he flew out of the Revelations with Scott and gleaned some more beta from their 2012 trip. After all, we still had a few more days of high pressure overhead so we wanted to make the most of it.

 

As we left camp at 5:30am, our packs still felt heavy. I struggled to keep up with Ben on the initial third class scramble to the snow ramp leading to the middle section of the glacier. Could it have been that I wasn't fully recovered from McNerthney? Hmmm... We threw in the occasional wand to track our path but, this being our first go; we traversed too high and had to retrace our steps to reach the opposite end of the Stilletto Glacier. And with only a hundred feet to go, we came to a rather intimidating snow bridge requiring a narrow traverse and steep exit on soft snow. I believe Ian Nicholson had a similar obstacle in 2005 that he dubbed "Crunch Time.” After 2 short belays, we were across and at the base in 3 hours from Sunny Knob – turns out GZ was right on about approach time first go.

 

[img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3704/9553979235_cd8a362826.jpg[/img]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serras, Stilletto, Blade, and Dentiform

 

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Phantom Tower and Grand Cappaccino centered in photo

 

Yet, bone-white granite and clean continuous cracks caught my eye on the steepest face of Bicuspid, and I soon lured Ben into my increasing frenzy to attempt a new route ground up and onsight. While much shorter, Bicuspid's splitter cracks looked more appealing than the various potential lines up Dentiform. And as if I needed any more justification, continuous cracks on clean granite were the perfect juxtaposition from McNerthney’s complex, adventure climbing.

 

Only a tiny moat lay at the base and we found a nice ledge to switch into rock climbing mode. We left a pack, boots and crampons at the base of the climb with the plan of rapping back to the base. Bicuspid Tower sits just west of ridge line proper. If you plan on climbing Stilletto, Blade, or Dentiform from the Stilletto Glacier, it is far easier to rap down the opposite side onto the Upper Tellot. A short jaunt will take you to Plummer Hut.

 

Ben led off the first series of 5.8 clean cracks rightward to reach a prominent ledge below the steepest part of the face. From here, it was like being in a candy store with numerous cracks to salivate over! The two furthest right led to a massive left facing corner crack, but thin unprotectable seams blocked the way and I wasn’t interested in aiding. I considered traversing high into one, but the possibility of a 40-foot sideways whip if I slipped out of a thin 5.11 corner did not sound…fun. On the far left, numerous wide cracks had their appeal too, but I had a hunch Ian may have climbed that part of the face.

 

[img:left]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7321/9553995917_4a85d09610.jpg[/img]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pitch 1

 

Instead, We opted for the center crack splitting the face with changing corners. Fortunately, narrow ledges off right and left provided options for pro and stances to suss out each section. I led up with an ice tool and a few knifeblades in case I had no other gear options. Fun 5.10 climbing, some flaring cracks, and a hand traverse with a quick heal hook led to the first crux of the route, a tricky 5.11 sequence of slopers and crimps where the crack pinched down to a thin seam.

 

[img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3736/9556739566_e269e2603d.jpg[/img]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pitch 2

Pumped and psyched to get it clean, I set a belay after the crux in a small alcove since I was running out of gear. The third pitch only proved to be more amazing! A thin 5.10 crack with perfect pro and stems lead into amazing splitter hands on par with the middle 5.9 section of Thin Fingers at Index. And that’s no exaggeration! Ben took the 4th pitch, a 5.9 V-slot angling right. Most of the chock stones were solid yet he moved with stealth around a few loose blocks since I was right below.

 

[img:left]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5460/9553951403_fa7b876b87.jpg[/img]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photos of splitters on Pitch 3!

 

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Pitch 4 - the V-slot

 

We made it through the steep section of the face, but the climbing difficulty didn't subside. Directly above, we climbed a short 5.10 corner into 5.9 face cracks to a large ledge. I initially climbed further up and left but the face blanked out and I down-climbed to the base of an intimidating R-facing crack. Ben came up and I passed the remaining gear to Ben.

 

Ben headed up the 6th pitch, but we left behind a couple finger-sized pieces at camp and the rock around the crack flaked off small chips as Ben worked his way up. Ben led through some strenuous finger locks to reach a tricky pod. After a few solid goes and proud whips, we swapped sharp ends and I climbed up to Ben’s high point. A wide stem on a small flake and mantle move brought us above the pod, but the crack above required an insecure layback. Past this 5.11 section, I continued up and around a tricky 5.10 stem to reach the top of the east summit.

 

[img:left]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7381/9556794352_dae9e2eda0.jpg[/img]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pitch 6 - the second crux pitch

 

Wowie! Amazing cracks and stout cruxes on a clean continuous 6-pitch new route is dubbed “On a recky” since the best climbs are often those unplanned and not in a guidebook.

 

[img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3794/9553939105_5747127b11.jpg[/img]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Route topo with previous known routes roughly marked

 

We slung a large block and completed three full 60-meter raps down to our packs. We radioed Tim once we were across “Crunch Time” and wandered back into camp just after dark. After 17.5 hours, we were back in camp enjoying a hot meal and taking in the stark contrast yet unreal fortune of adding this spectacular new route to our second ascent of McNerthney.

 

The next day, day 7 of the trip, I woke up exhausted, debating whether to join Tim and Ben on a final mission to hike up to Plummer Hut that day for another climb. Tim heads off mid-day while Ben and I rest a bit more at Sunny Knob. After eating, sleeping, and wandering around aimlessly a bit, we take off around 6:30pm. I plug the headphones in and head across the lower Tiedemann to the 1000-ft moraine of loose ball bearings. With that surmised, easy snow leads up and around the Claw peaks to Plummer Hut with only a short gully of rotten orange rock in between. 2.5 hours later, we plop down next to the Hut and eat a small meal to enjoy the sunset. Tim has his eyes set on Serra One in the guidebook and we make plans to head up the next morning.

 

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Sunset and dusk shots from Plummer Hut

 

A long but straightforward approach up the Tellot Glacier led us to the base. We stepped across a small schrund and traversed across ice to the base. We roped up midway, which was smart because the snow bridge eventually collapsed leaving one of us dangling our feet in the crevasse. Tim led off and we started simuling behind. Fun moderate climbing up to 5.7 brought us to the summit of Serra One.

 

[img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3693/9556727370_45f0f0949d.jpg[/img]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The ridge travels down to Stilletto Needle, Stilletto, and the Blade. Behind us, the Serras’ complex ridgelines lead into the Asperity/Tiedemann massif. We could see Sunny Knob far below as well as the upper half of McNerthney Pillar. Yet another amazing 360 degree view of the Waddington Range with bluebird skies and peaks as far as the eye could see! It’s never a dull moment tied in with Ben and Tim and they break into a Spanish conversation as we summit, capping the trip off with wild shouts of “quesadilla” and “seven layered burritos.”

 

[img:left]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5336/9556731716_777bf6ac85.jpg[/img]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We head back to the hut, repack, and charge back down to Sunny Knob, psyched with the continued fortune. We verify that weather is on its way so we opt to fly out 3 days early. We do our best to finish the booze and eat all the left-over goodies that night, prepping to fly out the next morning on day 9 of the trip. The chopper arrives on time and we enjoy our final ride out back to civilization.

 

5 years in Colorado with only a short trip to the Ruth Gorge back in 2011 meant I hadn't been in real mountain terrain with complex glaciers for far too long. I was lucky to have 2 great partners I'm psyched to rope up with when I return to Washington.

 

Hope to see you out there!

 

[img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3725/9556712888_d0daabac3c.jpg[/img]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Map of the Waddington Range with our travel shown in blue over the course of 8 days

 

Photos by Joe, Ben, and Tim

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Poom! Was waiting to see this extension to the TR and it didn't disappoint.

 

So glad you are working your way back to the PNW Joe!

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