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first ascent [TR] Mt Despair, N summit - NE ("Bipolar") Buttress, 3700+', 5.9 7/28/2014

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Trip: Mt Despair, N summit - NE ("Bipolar") Buttress, 3700+', 5.9


Date: 7/28/2014


Trip Report:





(Our first glimpse of the double buttress from banks of Goodell Cr.)





(Rolf climbs the final snow arête of the N Ridge to the N summit of Mt Despair. The highpoint of the NE Buttress is barely in view on right. Pickets background.)


Route summary: the NE Buttress (“Bipolar Buttress”) of Mt Despair, ~3700’ net vertical relief of climbing and scrambling; a few hundred more are climbed thanks to multiple rappels into notches along the way. Difficulties up to 5.9. (Rolf nailed the name.) I think we belayed a total of 9 pitches, 8 on the buttress and 1 to attain the N ridge?


This shot taken from the southeast shows the NE Buttress toeing down into Goodell Cr. Photo courtesy of John Roper, taken from the Roost.




We began climbing at the base of the big open book in the area of lighter rock on the lower buttress.


The feature can also be seen in the background of this shot taken from Mt Terror last summer:



And here:


Trip summary: a delightful tour of Picket-ness proportions; we approached via Goodell Creek, climbed Mt Despair via the soaring NE Buttress/N Ridge continuation, descended Despair’s west flank, and ultimately exited via Triumph Pass and Thornton Lakes trail to a bike, where the lucky loser of roshambo commenced the 8ish mile ride to retrieve the car. Lots of ups and downs. (On a map, this looks like a reasonable horseshoe route. Plan for three demanding days.)


More-enterprising types might more fully express this route by traversing from the N to the S summit, thence to Triumph Pass and home; we left this for future work due to budget constraints of calories and time.


A good thing too, as I botched the de-proach; in a monomaniacal fit of hubris, neglected to thoroughly research the route from Triumph Pass to the Thornton Cr trailhead, instead relying on simply a map and odd recollections. As a result, deep into the third day, we achieved new psychological limits by rat-schwacking up a 600+ vf stretch of steep, dense brush. My bad, brah.


A soi-disant Cascades dignitary pronounced this a Last, Last Great Problem of the Cascades, while the other side of same mouth pronounced it “table scraps”. The Bipolar Buttress is more akin to eating a spilled gourmet meal off the floor, tasty if a little dirty--the floor in this case is the Goodell Creek valley.


The NWMJ notes Roger Jung used Goodell to score FWAs on Mt Fury, but my contacts with real Cascades dignitaries yielded little info re: optimal access in the brushy summer. Sundry, pleasant surprises await those who in future travel this way.


Route description/photo blast:


Scrambling the lower buttress. Around 1300’ of mostly solid and well-featured scrambling up to low fifth class.



Chimney moves to finish the lower buttress difficulties.



From top of lower buttress, we rappelled into a notch; a party could bail from here at relatively low cost. Beyond this point, costs increase.


Rolf leading out of a notch after a rappel.





A very deep cleft in the upper buttress weighed on our psyches during the whole climb; the most technical pitches had occurred climbing out of smaller notches after rappelling into them. This deeper cleft can be seen in Tom Sjolseth’s picture from the N. Only the upper buttress is visible here, extending left—the cleft is near the summit of the buttress.




With apologies to Jimi Hendrix, this is the Manic Depression. New lows were hit upon closer viewing of the chasm. The wall we needed to climb appeared very steep, overhanging in places, and meager viable lines looked difficult to access. We rapped in and scoped around, finally settling on a route beginning maybe 50’ to the south of the notch: a right-trending stair-step ramp kept the climbing at a reasonable grade. Watch for loose rock here.




Rolf led the first pitch, and I got the leftovers; a bunch more rambling (an exposed stretch felt like the TFT) and we found a dee-luuuuxe bivy site on heather near the high col, where the two E-side glaciers meet. Views into the Pickets were available all day, and made even more enjoyable by respite. Smoke filtering in from eastern Washington provided color.


Mr Bo Jangles



S Pickets



N Pickets



The next morning we crossed the high col, climbed a 70m pitch of rock to attain the N Ridge, and then continued on its final snow arête. This pic shows the upper buttress (blocks view of lower buttress) on the right, with Goodell Cr far below.




Descent was made by downclimbing to the notch S of the N summit, then down the W side of the peak; one rappel required.


Demanding tour, but rewards with sweeping views and ambiance. Bunch more photos here: https://picasaweb.google.com/ewehrly/2014_07_28MtDespairNEBipolarButtress?authuser=0&feat=directlink


[Might add or swap out some photos upon receipt of Rolf’s.]


Gear Notes:

Medium rack with several pins, but never used them. Axe/crampons. Lithium. Single 70m rope.


Approach Notes:

See above.

Edited by lunger

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Glad you guys did that! I could never convince anyone to go along for that one. Very very cool!

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[Might add or swap out some photos upon receipt of Rolf’s.]



Rolf took photos??!?


Nice work you two, looks "fun."


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Team Blond strikes again! :rawk:

I am glad you guys got this one! That is one I've had (only) my eyes on it for a while. Steph was trying to get in there too, but it took sum gumption I am sure to do this one. It looks a bit more fierce that I had imagined. Hats off again to your amazing accomplishments in the recent years!

So.. now that Goodell approach goes, you should look at the sit start to Mongo!

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wow. that is not touched very much.

(Hmmm, given the context here you might want to rephrase that...)


In any case: Nice lookin' frickin' adventure, prose, and pics!

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Sundry, pleasant surprises await those who in future travel this way.


Indeed. Thanks for pushing through and bringing back a story and route to share with us all. I'm sure the approach is no joke, even with the pleasant surprises.

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