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[TR] Tatoosh Range an underestimation - Chutla and Wahpenayo Peaks 2/15/2015


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Trip: Tatoosh Range an underestimation - Chutla and Wahpenayo Peaks


Date: 2/15/2015


Trip Report:

This Saturday, Cam and I decided to leave my house at 1130pm to head to the Tatoosh range south of Mt Rainier. Cam set up and the GPS on his "smart" phone, and promptly fell asleep for the entire 4 hours of the drive.


Three hours into the drive, the kind voice of the phone told me to take a right. The road began to wind and twist, while the pavement turned to dirt and gravel. The path dead ended at a locked forest service gate. The phone had taken me the back-way to Longmire, but no luck. I turned around and headed back down, and an hour an a half later we had finally reached the park entrance.


We were unaware it was free to enter the park today because of presidents day! We couldn't have planned it any better. We reached Longmire and started looking for the Eagle Creek Trail head. We drove up and down the roads looking for a sign. No luck. We decided we would sleep in the parking lot until the morning.


We awoke in the morning and decided we would get a permit to camp due to the lost time. We got the permit and took off to the trail head. This sucker is hard to find! We missed it a couple times this morning. But we finally found it and parked. We packed up the gear, and we were finally on the trail at 10am. A couple hours later and we were on the top of Chutla. It was here that we sat down and had some lunch. What a beatiful day it was shaping out to be! Not a cloud in sight, and the gravity of Rainier weighed heavy as it demanded you to look at it in all it's glory. "That mountains huge!" I agreed as I scarfed some more PBnJ. It was time to leave this beautiful summit for another.





After looking at the map and scoping it out, we decided our best way for descent was down a northeast facing couloir. It was steep enough (40'ish degrees) to force us to down-climb most of the way. When we were halfway down we heard a huge crash! The sounds of rocks racing downhill, jarring for position against one another, jostling to see who could make it off the mountain first. First thoughts were, OH SHIT! Cam was right in the middle of the chute. I darted behind a protected alcove. But no rocks came down the couloir. Talk about relief! We made it out of the couloir and started traversing around the east side of the mountain looking for the rockfall. We saw no signs of the event.




We paused, and Cam brought up that his preexisting ankle injury had started to be re awoken on the down climb. We weighed our options. Retreat? No, Cam wouldn't allow it. "I didn't drive this far to just climb 1" (more like sleep all this far). We trudged on to Wahpenayo. The snow had become soft on the sun baked east face. As we started up the north face the slush turned into amazing snice. It allowed just enough for crampon points to bite in. Up we went crossing many mini ridges. My plan had to be to climb the north face of the mountain. But upon getting close enough Cam noticed the corniced ridge looming above. Nevermind the north face plan. We opted for the northwest ridge. We gained the corniced ridge and started to traverse to the summit. From down low it looked like it was going to be a cake walk. But as we got closer to the summit it appeared it was going to be a little harder then that.




The summit was guarded by steep sections of bare rock slabs and numerous snow buried trees. We battle through the trees, both of us getting hung up by our trekking poles several times. After that we had 2 short 40 foot bare rock sections to negotiate with our crampons. At 4pm we were at the USGS summit marker. Again we rested and munched on our sandwiches. Cam's ankle had come to a point of hindrance, rather then just a minor annoyance. So we decided to descend and head back to the car. Our first plan was to try to climb most, if not all of the remaining peaks through the night, and into the next day. But, we just had to much against us to realize this dream this time. We headed back down the way we came, down climbing the rock steps and thrashing through the tree guarded ridge. We then dropped over the col between Chutla and Wahpenayo back into the basin on the west side of the ridge. We tromped back to the car and headed for home.




"You always bring a rope, no matter what, just in case!"



Gear Notes:

Ice Ax, Crampons, and a ROPE!


Approach Notes:

Eagle Creek Trail is mostly snow free until just before the saddle.

Edited by Dinonuggetz
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