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G-spotter

first ascent [TR] Mt Rideout - Minus Six (NE Face) - 400 m WI3 70 deg. 3/10/2015

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Trip: Mt Rideout - Minus Six (NE Face) - 400 m WI3 70 deg.

 

Date: 3/10/2015

 

Trip Report:

The north couloir (aka Minus Five) on Mt Rideout was first climbed by Don Serl, Joe Bajan and Joe Buszowski in January of '83. A classic line that runs straight to the summit.

 

In Feb. 1994, Rob Nugent and Bob Koen took an obvious left forking ramp out of the north couloir, traversing a couple hundred meters left across the midheight ledge of the face to reach a parallel gully to the left, which was followed to the summit ridge with some slabby 5th class rock to exit.

 

Last Tuesday, Maxim de Jong and I climbed a separate gully left of the North Couloir to reach the same Nugent/Koen traverse and finishing gully.

 

I guess the question that is brought up by this is, when is a variation to a variation a new route or not? The line we climbed was independent of the North Couloir throughout, so going by the numbering scheme for the Sumallo Cirque Max thought up in the 90s, our route would be Minus Six Couloir as it's the next line left of Minus Five, which is itself five gullies left of Zero Gully.

 

I'd thought of Sumallo Cirque winter routes for a couple weeks but couldn't find an interested partner and/or was too busy with work. When Max became free, we originally tried to climb this on Sunday the 8th but only brought his pickup, no quad. When we ran into deeply rutted ice crust/snow at the gated bridge, 5 km down valley from the road end, we decided to come back in the midweek with his quad.

 

With the quad, we were able to follow past snowcat, snowmobile and quad trails all the way to near the pulled-out bridge over the west fork of the Sumallo. We walked from there to the base of the face in about an hour. I thought we were there to climb Minus Five, but when we neared the base, I ended up heading into the next gully to the left, just following my nose. Max came along behind and said "Oh, this is where we retreated the last time". Max and Shaun had tried it once before but retreated from below the crux WI3 due to heavy spindrift and wind slab avalanches.We looked at the potential lower traverse into Minus Five and it looked like crap - unbonded melty ice over sloping rock - which left the straight up option as our only option

 

11050720_10152601808321105_4738601899198852399_n.jpg

 

Max coming up to where we started to belay.

 

The straight up option was a narrow runnel of good ice but it was also a spindrift chute from the upper ledge. We waited out a few white powder douches before getting a stable spell. I led through and Max followed.

 

1509105_10152601816816105_2336911600945400840_n.jpg

 

Heading out from the belay, bottom of the ice visible

 

A 60m pitch of WI3 with 5m of near-vertical to start and a long runnel of moderately good ice and snice followed, a couple screws and a couple good nuts helped. I belayed at a widening in the gully above as it opened out to the base of the mid-height ledge that crosses the face.

 

Max led thru and out onto the ledge. We headed right and up to a point overlooking the North Couloir, which we still thought we were going to climb.

 

11038393_10152601814296105_904496127385600156_n.jpg

 

Max heading to the junction with the Nugent/Koen. I had been supposed to bring pickets but forgot them, so at this point I had untied from the rope and was soloing next to it as that seemed a marginally safer technique. The snow was pretty stable, and there wasn't ,much chance of either of us coming off.

 

The descent down the Nugent/Koen ramp to get into Minus Five looked feasible, but 100-150m of steep downclimbing didn't seem like the best way to make progress either. We saw a lwdge that might cross directly into the north couloir, but it also crossed a couple ribs, with unknown difficulty on the far side of the larger one, and we thought it might be time consuming. So we decided to head left and into the upper Nugent/Koen couloir line, even though we'd seen from below that it had a humungous cornice at the top.

 

We traversed back left across the upper edge of the shelf for about two and a half pitches (some simulclimbing) to get into the upper gully. The rock varied between OK and total shit, so I ran it out 50 m, found a nut, simuled another 50 m, found a horn to sling to back up a crappy pin, and then belayed just beyond when the rock changed back to OK and a splitter nut crack appeared. Max led through into the Nugent/Koen gully.

 

1511119_10152601832741105_4648255324032607926_n.jpg

Traversing

 

The upper gully was moderately angled but the cornice at the top looked like a cruise ship's bow hanging out over us, and it had not one but two crown line fractures! It was kinda intimidating. We found one or two sheltered belay spots along the sides of the couloir to huddle under while picking our way up.

 

11061250_10152601820346105_7111602326893266154_n.jpg

Max in the couloir

 

vlcsnap-2015-03-11-12h34m21s187.jpg

Trying to decide which exit to take. We could see two possible ways around the cornice - a gully out right, or traverse a shelf right below he cornice to turn it on the left. I elected to go left.

 

vlcsnap-2015-03-11-12h37m20s254.jpg

Heading up to the left exit.

 

The left exit was one of the scariest places I have ever been in in the mountains. My helmet was a few centimeters from bonking the underbelly of the cornice, which hung out over my head a couple of meters. I know people bivy under these in the Himalaya and stuff but I couldn't help but think "this thing could drop at any second and if it does I'm fucked." When I got out to the left edge of the cornice, where it kicked back to just less than vertical, I was so relieved, and so worried about the rope cutting in to the overhanging part if I went any further, that I buried Max's old "experimental design" snow fluke and my tools in the snow and belayed right there. Max came up and led through over the bulge and onto the welcome flatness of the east ridge.

 

11067608_10152601831836105_3029697650730790704_n.jpg

 

Max with a couple of meters of steep snow left to go to the top.

 

Once we topped out on the ridge we thought briefly about summiting but weather coming in and a desire to get off the mountain down a gully that we knew had more large cornices saw us decide to just head down. We found away around those cornices, and downclimbed the Silvertip-Rideout col gully all the way back to our tracks from the morning, where snow conditions relented enough that we could finally take off our crampons and plungestep back down the hill. We got back to the quad right at dark, for about a 12 hr round trip day.

 

It was a good route - certainly not the longest on the mountain, but involving some fun terrain. I suppose I still need to go back to summit Rideout, though.

 

Gear Notes:

Small-med nuts, a couple pins, 4 tricams, 2 hexes, 4 ice screws (1 ea. 10 cm, 14 cm, 17 cm, 19cm), one "experimental design" flexible aluminum snow fluke from 1990. Should have broght a couple pickets. Single 8.something mm 60 m rope.

 

Approach Notes:

Big pickup with quad in back.

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Wow, that sounds full value. Glad that the cornices all behaved. Do you have an overview photo of the cirque where you could draw your line? I'm not familiar with the area, but have been meaning to check it out.

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Nice one, and good read!

 

Do you have an overview photo of the cirque where you could draw your line?
I second this.

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11000108_10152601621291105_7287541015049681351_n.jpg

 

Here's a pic I took of the face from a flight with John Scurlock in 2008.

 

We went up the red line and came down the brown line.

 

Green is North Couloir

Blue link from green to red is Nugent/Koen

Pink or purple is Edwards/Spagnut 1994, probably pink.

Edited by G-spotter

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