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[TR] Burgundy - North Face 6/22/2014


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Trip: Burgundy - North Face


Date: 6/22/2014


Trip Report:

Several months ago Juan asked what peaks were left on my tick list. I boldly responded "North Face of Burgundy Spire" and scheduled a climb date between family, kids, work, etc, figuring/hoping it would never happen. Problem was, neither of us had climbed much rock in the last few years. I think we each secretly hoped the other would chicken out before we got to the point of having to take our leads. We did spend an evening fumbling with gear and thrutching up the Great Northern Slab route at Index and knocked some rust off which didn’t really make me feel any more confident other than confirming Juan remembered how to belay. Nonetheless, I borrowed a #4.5 and #5 from JayB for the 5.8 off width on the final pitch on Burgundy’s North Face Route. Reading the SuperTopo WA Pass warning that only “solid 5.8/5.9” leaders should attempt the route only reinforced my trepidation.


On the drive Saturday morning, we stopped at the Marble Mount Ranger station to see if we needed a permit or not. Turns out Burgundy Col is way outside of the park’s boundaries. Chatting with Rangers and a high profile, pro climber from out of state provided hearty conversation for the rest of the drive. We parked at the pullout at 11:00 am with a few other cars and started the hike, me not feeling great about our prospects but keeping it to myself. We had talked a bit about bagging Silver Star as an alternative but decided to wait and see how the day progressed. At the creek crossing, the old log was sagging into the water and slick so we looked for alternatives. I spotted a skinny log downstream 2-3’ above the waterline and charged across. Problems occurred about halfway to the opposite shore as the log started wiggling. With no good options, I took my medicine and executed a belly/side flop into the creek, losing a trekking pole to the swift water and banging up my knee and back on the stream bed. I thought I’d be lucky to get up Silver Star at this rate.


After wringing out my socks, we continued on up the climbers trail, encountering snow at 6,200’, intermittently losing the trail across the benches and enduring the typical brush and scree as we slogged up to the col. We distributed our bivy gear around the col and decided to take the scramble route up Vasiliki to scope out the next day’s route on Burgundy. I heartily banged my remaining good knee into a rock on the descent and hobbled back to the col. Unfortunately, the route looked entirely dry and, unless my various injuries caused a debilitating condition, we were going to at least tackle the first pitch the next day mostly due to Juan’s unwithering optimism. A couple of youngsters arrived after climbing Piassano and planned to get on Burgundy Sunday. Juan cheerfully chatted with them and correctly determined that with us being the slower (certainly older) team, they should plan to get on the route first in the morning. We shivered through the short, cold night and had a leisurely breakfast complaining about inadequate sleeping pads while the “A team” climbed the first pitch on Sunday morning.


We’d agreed to take it one pitch at a time and felt comfortable with the notion that the rap route followed the ascent route allowing us to bail if the climbing was too hard or my nagging injuries impeded climbing. Juan took the first block of leading, 3 pitches up to where the 5.8 starts. Arriving at the belay, I took the rack and looked at the layback flake like I actually meant to climb it. The pitch really doesn’t look bad from the belay and if you’re a gomer crack climber like me who laybacks most cracks anyway, it’s not bad and like most of the hard moves on this route, protects really well. Seemed like we were suddenly cruising the pitches I was sure we’d fail on. Starting up the second pitch of 5.8, I faced a difficult move but noticed a strangely placed old sling around a chockstone. As I considered lowering off the pitch and heading home, I realized it was a bail sling where someone must’ve arrived at the same conclusion as me, this route was more than we could handle. For some reason, that provided the stimulus to get my brain working on solving the problem again instead of focusing on falling or bailing. With Juan’s encouragement, we managed to thrutch our way up that pitch to Burgundy ledge.


John took the lead again and, despite my steering him way off route, somehow found and dispatched the 5.8 “awesome” pitch and brought me up. I must say, the follower’s backpack made the climbing very strenuous with the two big cams, ice axe (not needed) water etc. I completely forgot about the theory to go light on the pack when climbing close to your limit. Anyway, out came the big cams and layback technique for the final off width pitch, which was pretty fun. We ate a snack on the summit and started rapping down which was thankfully uneventful as was the rest of the descent and long drive home.


As a desk-jockey 5.8 climber, this route was very fun and challenging. If you’re a competent crack climber, it’s probably still fun but maybe not that challenging. Juan declared it “athletic” 5.8 and I agree. The bivi sites at the col were dry but plenty of snow just on the east side. We chatted with some guys camped on the bench who reported Clean Break being in great shape, most routes up there seemed to be dry and in good condition for climbing.


Here's John's excellent photos:


Juan on the Summit of Vasiliki




Me on Vasiliki with Burgundy in the background, note my extreme wind shirt!




Getting to business on pitch 4




Still working



Heading out on P5 past the point of consternation




The awesome 5.8 pitch




About to head up the last pitch




Juan, chillin on the summit




Put on my glasses to hide the tears of relief




First of many raps




Gear Notes:

Per super topo book, spot on.


Approach Notes:

Upon hitting Early Winters Creek, walk upstream 50 yards to the big stable log. High profile brain teasers.

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Nice TR - glad the route went well. I'm thinking of joining a few friends on this route in a few weeks. From the SuperTopo description it sounds like the belay stances aren't that large. Do you think a party of 3 would be annoyingly uncomfortable for this climb? Or just result in some enforced bonding experiences?



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Choss Dawg Success!!


So glad that you guys had a good climb! Juan can fill me in on the dirty details when he comes along on our trip in July. Is the Paisano/Burgundy link up next?


That approach is pretty steep, but at least your boots were wet.

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Choss Dawg Success!!


So glad that you guys had a good climb! Juan can fill me in on the dirty details when he comes along on our trip in July. Is the Paisano/Burgundy link up next?


That approach is pretty steep, but at least your boots were wet.


The creek was cold but at least the rocks in the stream bed were hard.

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