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[TR] Cascade Pass - Sahale, Buckner and Horseshoe 5/30/2014

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Trip: Cascade Pass - Sahale, Buckner and Horseshoe


Date: 5/30/2014


Trip Report:

Spent a fantastic three days at Cascade Pass instructing a Boealps BCC Graduation Climb. We planned to climb Sahale, Buckner, Horseshoe and Boston (for instructors only). Boston turned out to have too much snow to be done safely, but we summited the other three on a gorgeous weekend. I have never been able to snag permits for Sahale camp, but the early season and partially closed road got us not only permits but solitude and untouched snow at the high camp for almost the whole weekend. We didn’t see another human being until our hike our on Sunday. 18 miles and 11,500 ft made for a great weekend in my favorite spot in the Cascades.




The following trip report was written by team lead Danika Globokar, photos by Devin Monas





Cascade River Rd was closed at the Boston Basin TH giving us an extra 2+ miles and 1200' gain to just get to the Cascade Pass Trail. We left the cars around 6:30am. Took the mostly-melted-out trail to about 4400', where it touches Soldier Boy Creek. We headed 2000' straight up the snowed-in creek basin rather than switch-backing to Cascade Pass, saving us a good couple of miles. Continued up to Sahale camp at ~7500' and arrived around 1pm. 5000 feet of gain in 6.5 hours. Dropped packs and set up camp. Pondered about doing Sahale Friday vs Sunday,and decided to just go for it since "what else are we going to do this afternoon?"





Roped up for glacier travel practice and headed up to Sahale, which is another 1100' of gain. Devin led up the 30-40 feet of 4th (1 or two moves low-5th) summit block, set up an anchor, and belayed me up. I belayed the first student as Devin set the rappel. There was a lot more snow up here than when I had previously climbed Sahale and added some spice to the route. fyi, if anyone was curious, don't try Boston Peak for at least another month or two. Sooo much snow on it still and it looks terrifying.




We started the whole summit block process at 3:15, and the first team was back at camp around 5:30, last team around 7:15pm. I was with the first team and we went down the gully to the east of Sahale camp which accesses Horseshoe Basin Wwe wanted to scope things out for our alpine start tomorrow. Good thing we did, as we found several large moats opening up which we were then able to avoid the next day. Bed around 10pm.




Dinner Friday

In the parking lot I had 3 students with packs weighing in at 51, 58 and 60 pounds respectively (luckily, they are three of the work-horses of the team). I didn't give the heavy packs a second thought, dismissing the weights as just a sign that the students hadn't learned how to pack after the overnight. Well. Shame on me for doubting them. The reason for the pack weights was discovered at dinner, when the students produced a full-size skillet, large propane canister and burner, and gourmet quesadilla fixings for the entire team. Also, an entire carrot cake for dessert. We ate like champions.


Saturday (morning)

Left camp at ~515, not truly desiring an alpine start after 6000' yesterday. Had to immediately drop ~1000' out of camp to access Horseshoe Basin the steep gully. The gully is just barely starting to melt out and is still easily accessible. The lower shortcut snow ramp is still in for the season and saved us a few hundred feet, all the upper ramps are out.


We had a couple of hours to ponder the best way up Buckner as we trudged across the never-ending basin. When we finally reached the slopes of Buckner, we choose to take a direct route up a steeper section on the left side of the face rather than going to the normal SW face route. We found firm conditions but good snow and we hit the summit col at noon, ~7 hours after leaving camp. There is a lot of debate on which is the true summit, but we were much closer to the SW summit so we decided to tag that and call it done.


Left the summit at 1pm. The original plan was that we all do Horseshoe..a 80' prominent bump on ripsaw ridge that is on the bulger list (but shouldn't be), which is guarded by a couple of 3rd-class, exposed rock gullies and a single 5.3 move at the top. Because of the time issues and the fact that students were bonking, we sent them back to Sahale camp with one instructor as the other instructors ran over to bag Horseshoe.


We found considerably more snow on the approach than the beta photos but were easily able to get to a large flat area on the left side of the peak at the base of the hidden gully. We first thought to climb directly up some loose class 3 and then hunted around the far left side of the summit block to find the true ascent gully. Unfortunately that gully was filled with loose snow, so we went back to the loose class 3 which was more than fun enough to make up for not being able to climb Boston on this trip. Most of this rock is falling apart and is fairly exposed but was still a fun climb (why on earth is this on the bulger list?)


I led the final ramp and the 5.3 move at the top. The 5.3 move is overhung (what the heck!?), but protectable. Suffice to say, we all summitted safely, signed our names in the summit register (placed in 1995, saw Luke Shy, Nathan Roberts, Jerry & Kathy Bailie on there), and a double rope rappel got us back to the packs after some minor rope pulling issues. Total detour time of 3 hours.




Basin was full of wet, post-holing snow that the rest of the team took care of by kicking a path in for us. Several sections of steps were gone due to wet-slides in the hot afternoon and we narrowly avoided a few wet slides that came down while we traversed across the basin. Matt D almost got taken out by a wet-slide, but Chris C saw it and yelled. "Run, Matt, RUN!" It was actually a close call, and we were all extra vigilant, and a bit spooked, on the way out. Things are getting sloppy out there, so be careful.




Didn't set alarms, but all got up naturally around 6am. Packed and left camp by 7:30am. At this point we saw the first other people during the whole three day weekend, a team of two headed up Sahale. Back to the cars at 11:30.



Gear Notes:

Very small rack for Horseshoe. Think we placed a small nut and a #1 and .5 C4


Approach Notes:

Road is clear until a big block of snow at the parking lot, but gated at boston basin TH.


Trail is mostly snow free until at least 4,400. Mostly snow on the arm but some heather is starting to come out.

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uh, Boston is terrifying without snow! Great report, thanks for the work.


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