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dberdinka

first ascent [TR] Vesper Peak - The Ragged Edge 8/18/2013

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Trip: Vesper Peak - The Ragged Edge

 

Date: 8/18/2013

 

Trip Report:

Back in August Gene Pires and I wandered up to the north face of Vesper Peak to check out the steeper and much neglected eastern half of the face. We managed to climb the obvious exposed edge along its right-hand side. The position and the underlying rock quality were generally fantastic but the climbing itself was horrible due to a thick layer of lichen, heather and dirt that covered the face. Rock cruxes were protected by beaks, belays tended to be marginal and the actual crux involved mantling across a series of quivering hummocks. A good time was had by all (I think) but it sure as hell wasn’t anything you’d recommend to a friend.

 

So when I finally finagled two days to myself rather than hang out with friends, or go somewhere new or actually get in some pitches I carried a 70 pound pack of bolting, cleaning and bivi gear back to the summit of Vesper Peak. A dozen retro-bolts and fifteen hours of scrubbing later the end result is a potentially enjoyable six-pitch 5.6 or 5.7 rock climb in a stellar setting. The rock is excellent, the climbing is sustained at a very moderate grade, the position is spectacular and the protection and belays are solid and well situated. It’s pretty easy to overestimate the quality of your own routes but this has to be one of the better moderate and accessible alpine rock climbs on the west side of the Cascades.

 

I should point out that what we did was essentially a series of major variations to the “Center Route” established in 1969. The fourth pitch was shared in common and probably the first pitch of the original start otherwise we had stayed further right near the edge. Pretty bold climbing they did back in the day.

 

Until nature gives it a solid pressure washing the grit left behind from cleaning will inevitably collect in some of the cracks and edges I scrubbed. If someone heads up there this year consider bringing a small stiff bristled brush or at least a nut tool to clean off some holds. Would be psyched to hear feedback if anyone climbs it.

 

Click image for larger version

RE_Topo.jpg

 

 

Approach Description

 

The trail fades out as you enter the basin between Vesper and Sperry Peaks. Cross the outlet of the lake and follow an obvious talus ridgeline up to a col between the peaks. The climb is accessed by a ledge system that cuts across the north face of Vesper at about 5800’ elevation and begins at a small notch overlooking the Vesper Glacier. Allow 3+ hours for the approach.

 

Walk out the ledge on steep exposed heather (snow until mid-late summer?). When you can’t walk any further either (A) scramble up over an obvious chockstone formed by a large, thin flake to a belay ledge or (B) as a variation backtrack a bit and figure out an exposed 3rd class traverse down and around the toe of a buttress before scrambling back up to an obvious and clean 5.6 layback crack (better start). The 3rd class slabs at mid-height on the first pitch could easily be accessed after climbing the lower half of the north face as well.

 

 

Route Description: The ratings below are potentially soft. Bring a full set of nuts small to large and a single set of cams from #0 TCU to #3 Camalot with extra #0.75 and #1.

 

Original Start - Red Line

 

P1) Climb approximately 60’ of low-5th terrain to 3rd class slabs. Continue up the obvious flaky gully and arrange a gear belay just below a short overhanging wall (low-5th 170’).

 

P2) Traverse right on a long, thin ledge then a short gully to a fixed belay on the skyline (4th 60’).

 

Slightly contrived variation start with better climbing - Blue Line

 

P1) Climb a nice layback flake then a low-angle groove to 3rd class slabs. Traverse hard right then follow the highest grassy ledge system approximately 40’ to a gear belay below a faint white dyke splitting a slab (5.6 160’). Note that you can also reach this belay from the original start as well.

 

P2) Climb the dyke past three bolts to a thin ledge. Traverse right and up a short gully to a fixed anchor on the skyline (5.7 90’).

 

P3) Step right then traverse back left on positive edges towards the skyline. Find a bolt then continue up a nice arête protected by fixed pins. Arrange a gear belay atop a heather ledge (5.7 95’).

 

P4) Step right and climb steep, stacked blocks. Easy zig-zag cracks above lead to a fixed anchor. I aggressively trundled loose and semi-loose blocks off this pitch but some caution is still advised (5.7 95’).

 

P5) Step right again and climb straight up in an exposed position. At the second bolt traverse right 50’ to a fixed anchor on the skyline (5.7 80’).

 

P6) Follow the nice arête to a final touch of heather and the summit. (5.5 130’). Walk off to the southeast.

 

 

A lot of the greenery in the following three photos is now gone.

 

ragged_edge-1.jpg

 

ragged_edge-3.jpg

 

ragged_edge-2.jpg

 

ragged_edge-6.jpg

 

ragged_edge-4.jpg

 

 

Never heard good things about the lower wall. Maybe a direct starts needs a scrub-down next year.

 

ragged_edge-5.jpg

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Thanks for all your hard work on this! I just may have to check this out sooner rather than later.

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Wow. Scrubbing and bolting a multi-pitch line many hours from the road? Must be true love. Thanks for the effort. I enjoyed the lower part of the face but probably started further right than most do.

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thanks for your effort Darin, I will def go in and do it, as the position is amazing on that peak, and skipping the bottom junky pitches is also good

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damn D, save me the trouble of going back in there for the hard manual labor. was planning on trudging up there this fall. Now I can just go in with light pack and send the radness.

Any fools wanna hit the second (or third) ascent?

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If any of you get on it this year I'll be real curious to see if I'm not just full of shit.

 

Just one more pic of a real beautiful nook in the Cascades.

 

sunset8.jpg

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Wow- nice work Darin.Really cool that you went up there, nothing but respect for the amount of work expended to reveal this gem. Love that last shot, the peak in the foreground is Wolf Peak, Howling Ridge is the left skyline in the sun. Amazing photo of that! An excellent under appreciated 5.8 route as well.

 

MH

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Of the 4 FA's I have done with Darin, I think this route may actually get a second ascent.

It deserves fairly regular traffic and is actually more fun than the normal n face route. Oh the heresy!

 

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That is an incredible photo from that area. When was it taken? Is that a September picutre?

 

Oh, I realized that it was from the same trip, by the same person...

Edited by ZakG

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:tup: :tup:

I spent 5 nights in the vesper/sperry basin with a group of teens this past summer and have a new found love for that corner of the cascades. Way to make it that much better.

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Wow- nice work Darin.Really cool that you went up there, nothing but respect for the amount of work expended to reveal this gem. Love that last shot, the peak in the foreground is Wolf Peak, Howling Ridge is the left skyline in the sun. Amazing photo of that! An excellent under appreciated 5.8 route as well.

 

MH

 

I just twigged to the fact that there is a shot looking down Howling Ridge back in Darin's pics, and it was clearly the vantage where he took his excellent beta pic of Vesper.

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Howling Wolf Ridge has a great name. On the drive in, shortly before the parking lot, there is a great vantage point of the valley including Howling Wolf. In the middle of the ridge there is a rock formation on the skyline that looks exactly like a howling wolf. As a climb it looked a bit dirty but who knows.

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Anyone been up in this recently? I'm thinking about it as an alternative to the regular N face route. Sounds cool, curious if nature has tried to re-take it with lichen.

Edited by jared_j

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Has anyone jumped on this this summer? I thought it was easy and spectacular enough to get a heap of traffic. Maybe I was wrong?

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Has anyone jumped on this this summer? I thought it was easy and spectacular enough to get a heap of traffic. Maybe I was wrong?

 

I actually just climbed this yesterday. It looked more interesting and aesthetic than the standard NF route we were thinking about.

 

The lichen is back and we threw off a few sizable chunks of moss, but we gave it a bit of cleaning on our way up. There's still one very large, loose block on P4 that's a bit scary. My partner stepped on it and it teetered and rumbled; couldn't get it to bust free though. It's easily avoidable, just be careful. The rock was solid for the rest of the climb overall (I chucked off a few pieces here and there).

 

Darrin isn't full of shit; I thought it was a fun day out on a great line. Very reasonable and easy climbing; it was a nice break from going balls to the wall for the past month. The position is impressive and striking, and the views back behind you are fantastic. Really nice thing to do that's so close to home. Thanks for putting it up and the new hardware!

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