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Avalanche_Lilly

[TR] Vesper Peak - North Face 8/18/2013

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Trip: Vesper Peak - North Face

 

Date: 8/18/2013

 

Trip Report:

After cranking hard all summer culminating in a summit of Devil's Thumb in Alaska the weekend before, I decided it was about time for a fuck-off climb weekend. I am tired of climbing by its stringent RULES. I'm going to do WHAT I WANT! This may or may not include: drinking on the approach, drinking at camp, smoking on top of every pitch, blasting obnoxious music at base camp, wearing definitely non-technical clothing, being slow, lollygagging and dawdling, etc. My friend Azure was the perfect wing woman for this, being a busy mom whose husband and son were out of town that weekend. She doesn't get to climb or party that often anymore so she wanted to make the most of the weekend too! Vesper looked like an ideal climb, we'll crank it out Saturday then fuck off on Sunday. Oh wait the weather is bad on Saturday nevermind we'll hike in Saturday, camp and fuck off then climb Sunday.

 

Friday night! Margaritas and hot tubbin. Azure made me get up at 7 AM Saturday morning cuz she's a mom and they all get up early I think. We hit the road, tried to find the North Cascades but took a wrong turn and ended up at Scuttlebutt Brewery in Everett. OOPS! Eleven tiny beers and some clam chowder later we're going the right direction. We slog up the trail, stop at Headlee Pass for a wine and smoke break, head up to Vesper Lake. ALRIGHT, there is a large group of men camped there! Wohooo! Oh wait, they are all teenage boys. And even the group leaders are too young for me. Sigh, it is hard, being old and haggard. I'm just kidding anyhow, I ain't interested cuz I have the hottest boyfriend in the world. The guys have the best (only) camping spot so we go scrap something out of the boulderfield, moving rocks aside, too lazy to go to the campsites further up the ridge. The evening consisted of drinking wine, smoking ciggies, and dancing to hits such as 'Low' by Flo-Rida blasting obnoxiously from the basecamp speakers. We're gonna get up at 4 AM!

 

4 AM. I peak out the tent door. There's a cloud over Sperry, Vesper looks completely clear. "UM it's cloudy we should sleep in another hour." 5 AM. "UM it's still too dark why should we futz around in the dark for no reason?" 7:00 AM we get up. Leave camp at 8. Whatever. It's fuck-off climb! WE DO WHAT WE WANT! We scramble up to the 5500' notch and downclimb onto the glacier below. Fuck that moat is huuuge. The gully system at 5200' recommended by trip reports is completely inaccessible unless you can jump a 10' moat that's 30+ feet deep. We wander up another 150' or so and find the only spot where the moat is remotely passable, with only a 4' leap to a ledge. Azure puts me on belay from the snow and I go to jump it and hem and haw for 5 minutes and then bitch out and make her and her longer legs do it. It's so humiliating, being tiny. She makes it look easy and climbs up a short way and builds an anchor and hauls me up.

 

Azure setting up to belay harrowing moat crossing.

9549840068_347f2a0447_b.jpg

 

Looking down at me at the only possible crossing of giant gaping moat

9546793891_da55ba08bf_o.jpg

 

Now here comes the fun! Head up this random steep gulley that is the only one you can access and not in anyone else's trip reports. There is not one but TWO roofs I'm gonna have to pull over. I hope there are good holds. There aren't. I can't even remember the details of the first roof I am too traumatized, I just remember wishing one of my stronger climbing buddies were there so I could back off and make them do it and be relaxed and happy. But, they aren't here, and I ain't rapping off no gear, so the only way is up. At one point I really want my #2 cam but my belay device biner's nose is jammed into the wire gate of the cam biner and I can't see what's going on so I wiggle and wiggle and then watch sadly as my belay device pinballs down the ledges below, flashing gloriously one last time in the sunlight before it disappears into the moat. "Hope you like being belayed off a munter!" I yell at Azure.

 

Hot roof on roof action:

roofs.jpg

 

After the first roof I build the most horrifying anchor I ever have, a tiny cam and a nut in the cracks formed by the same block separating out of the rock face, and a cam in a flake at my feet that I can't equalize but set as a backup. Azure asks for a take at one point and I say "NO!" On the second roof I came up under its right side, performed an undercling no-feet traverse switching to a layback off a vertical crack on the left side, backstep smear and finally heave myself on top of the roof only to find no holds again. "How does it look up there?" Azure asks. "JUST BE QUIET RIGHT NOW!! DON'T TALK!!' I demand, balancing on one tiny foothold. Being terrified makes me unpleasant and bitchy. I end up pseudo-chimneying and smearing up a smooth corner system to finally more moderate ground. "Can I talk now?" Azure asks. "Yes." I say. "GOOD JOB!" She cheers. I'm a pretty solid 5.8 leader and I was struggling so I'd say those roofs are at least 5.9. Or maybe it was just awkward scary smeary alpine 5.8 hard. Every piece of pro in that gully is awful, it's either a cam behind a suspect flake or a nut in the crack of a disjointed block. I can see how easily what happened to Steph Abegg did happen as everything I pulled/stood upon was massive but not solidly attached.

 

Next was two annoying rope lengths of heather benches mixed with granite and then we were to the granite slab! This is where you come in on the bypass ledges. I could see the appeal of quality rock, but did you really hike all the way in here just to do 3 pitches of high quality rock? Why don't you just go to the crag if that is what you are looking for? This is ALPINE, where we like to scrap for what we get! We stop for a smoke break, I need to calm my frazzled nerves. I dunno if I can even call the 1.5 pitches before the open book a climb cuz it's so low angle, it was more like delicate walking on a sidewalk. But I love every minute of it because it's solid and ain't that first gully.

 

Solid slab salvation

9547048055_18b7a6e4aa_b.jpg

 

Eff you, climbing, and your stringent rules! I DO WHAT I WANT!

9550426286_6e1ac96354_k.jpg

 

We climbed the open book cuz uhhh I dunno it involves the least decision making and most pro? It was pretty chill, maybe 5.5?, walking your feet up while underclinging/laybacking on the crack. Perhaps staying on the slab would be more challenging. I ran out of rope the last 30' so Azure gladly led us to the top.

 

Freeeeeedom of the Hiiiillllls!!!

9550425724_640ea4c388_k.jpg

 

Open book is easy and fun!

9547046999_2bcb66b1ba_b.jpg

 

Walking down from the summit, clouds moved in and no views. What a wonderful girl-time fuck-off climb!!!

9549580066_affb243c72_b.jpg

 

In summary: If you are planning on doing the complete NF route this season soon you're going to have a hard time accessing anything due to the moat! It's a take whatever gully you can get sort of deal. Don't be banking on no 5.6 easy climb.

 

Gear Notes:

nuts, set of cams up to a #2 with doubles in .3 and .4, a coupla extra micro cams made me happy

 

Approach Notes:

aluminum crampons + approach shoes + ice axe was fine for the glacier

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Sigh, it is hard, being old and haggard.

 

Sigh, tell me about it...

 

Thanks for posting the TR. The pics were umm, very nice!

 

d

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Darin and I were above you on the face that day. we came in on the side access ledge. that moat looked very large from our perspective.

 

Either I am old or you gals can handle the colder temps. I thought it was way too cold for bikinis! It has been a while since either Darin or I have climbed in a bikini. :)

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Nice TR!

 

I had a similarly sketchy experience getting past that moat. Thankfully, we ended up below a more solid and reasonable piece of rock than you did. Good job avoiding the chop!

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This TR seems to lack the typically shitty "butt shot" photo of the leader for some reason. Huh...

 

I also know how it feels to be denied my preferred climbing attire:

 

3832formaldehead.jpg

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Sigh, it is hard, being old and haggard.

9550426286_6e1ac96354_k.jpg

 

I'm not sure the photographic evidence supports this conclusion. You should submit more bikini photos and let the cc.com brain trust make that determination.

Edited by DPS

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Darin and I were above you on the face that day. we came in on the side access ledge. that moat looked very large from our perspective.

 

Either I am old or you gals can handle the colder temps. I thought it was way too cold for bikinis! It has been a while since either Darin or I have climbed in a bikini. :)

 

I don't know how you guys are still alive because you've just proved your intuition is TERRIBLE. If there was ever a time to listen to the still, small voice that said: "just wait right now," it was that day. Christ Almighty.

 

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...drinking on the approach, drinking at camp, smoking on top of every pitch, blasting obnoxious music at base camp, wearing definitely non-technical clothing, being slow, lollygagging and dawdling, etc...

'bout sums up my climbs :lmao:

 

dunno, seems like there might be some uncomfy chafing likely to occur in said rig...

 

holy shiite muslims, where's the devil's thumb tr?

 

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This TR seems to lack the typically shitty "butt shot" photo of the leader for some reason. Huh...

 

I also know how it feels to be denied my preferred climbing attire:

 

bwhahaaha! Um but I don't understand aren't fleece vests considered technical climbing wear?

 

I may have to give a presentation on Devil's Thumb hence why no TR as of yet. But you can look at this photo of it, and dream...P8100539-PANO.jpg

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I don't know how you guys are still alive because you've just proved your intuition is TERRIBLE. If there was ever a time to listen to the still, small voice that said: "just wait right now," it was that day. Christ Almighty.

 

that voice was silenced by raging fear.

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Seems like just the other day we used to drive up the s.e. side of vesper in my 64 vw camper van and spend the night, by a huge bonfire with left over scraps from greedy loggers. Then run up to the top and back. Now I think only loggers can use that road, if there still is one. How times have changed, esp. the bikini climbing, from leather and wool. Soooo enjoyed reading your report! thanks!!!

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My favorite lines from this :):

 

"flashing gloriously one last time in the sunlight before it disappears into the moat"

 

"hot roof on roof action"

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Awesome. Did this same climb about 7 years ago. Thought the first 500 was terrifying. Scared me silly.....the last 500 was awesome. Great job.

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"ALRIGHT, there is a large group of men camped there! Wohooo! Oh wait, they are all teenage boys. And even the group leaders are too young for me."

That was a group from B.O.L.D. spending two weeks mountaineering in the area.

 

Seems like just the other day we used to drive up the s.e. side of vesper in my 64 vw camper van and spend the night, by a huge bonfire with left over scraps from greedy loggers. Then run up to the top and back. Now I think only loggers can use that road, if there still is one. How times have changed, esp. the bikini climbing, from leather and wool. Soooo enjoyed reading your report! thanks!!!

 

I lead the same trip in July and came down the SE side of Vesper down Vesper creek to the Sultan river valley. 2 full days of bushwacking Chuck Norris style with 65lb packs with 14 year old boys = aweful.

The Vesper creek mining road is all but gone with slight traces. The Sultan river road has also been reclaimed by nature. That stretch is beautiful and very wild these days.

Lesson learned: With budget cuts and continual limited access to public lands, don't trust maps.

Edited by mountainsloth

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