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first ascent [TR] Colfax Peak - North Face "Ford's Theatre" 500' AI4+ (FA) 4/20/2015

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Trip: Colfax Peak - North Face "Ford's Theatre" 500' AI4+ (FA)


Date: 4/20/2015


Trip Report:

Yesterday, Andrew Fabian and I skipped work and put up a fourth route on the north face of Colfax. The previous three noted in the Alpinist blog after Colin Haley put up his route earlier this month.


I spotted the potential route back in February when I climbed to the col west of Colfax to get a cell phone call out to my wife. I’ve been itching to get on it ever since. Most of the route is hidden from the approach and previous beta has only speculated about seeps coming out of the rock forming the lower ice. ref: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/738732/2


It does indeed connect to upper snowfields and eventually tops out with the last 100’ of the Cosley-Houston. The route is in great shape, climbing 3 pitches of steep ice before mellowing out on steep snow gullies to the eventual summit. It’s a spectacular setting, with amazing views of Lincoln Peak and the Thunder Glacier cirque, and the Salish Sea far off in the distance. The climbing is fun and sustained, but with not many belay options after the first pitch. A bold party could likely combine the second and third pitches into one long pitch and avoid hanging screw belays.


Big credit to Andrew for making the route go and rope gunning the hard pitches!


Typical view of the North Face of Colfax. Polish route center left (hanging pillar not touching down). Cosley-Houston center right. The bottom portion of Ford's Theatre just visible to the right before it disappears behind rock buttresses.



Before commiting to the climb we hiked up to Point 8704 to get a good view of the route and verify it would go, center left over Andrew's shoulder.



Heading up to the base of the climb. I led the first pitch, a short 20m WI3 pitch to a great belay cave and nice stance. Enough snow gets blown into the cave to create a bomber picket anchor, saving screws for the next lead.



Pitch 2 immediately gets down to business with a short free standing pillar and continuing up steep hard ice. Here Andrew leads out, with Lincoln Peak watching the action on Ford's Theatre while Assassin Spire creeps up right of Lincoln and the Wilkes-Booth route sneaks up from behind... :)



Andrew stopped at a hanging belay ~30m up the WI4+ second pitch. From here we hung/aided/gumbied across an awkward traverse to move the belay before Andrew fired the last ice pitch, also AI4+.



Steep! Looking down from the new belay for the final ice pitch.



Steep snow



Looking up the last 100' shared with Cosley-Houston



All smiles on top:



Overall we thought it's an outstanding route, slightly harder than Cosley-Houston but a good alternative for anyone looking for something new. With the snow fields feeding it from above I'm guessing that if C-H and the Polish are "in", so is this route.


Gear Notes:

We took 10 screws of various length. A couple more would have been nice. Pickets were also key for a bomber belay anchor on pitch one and for the top of the last ice pitch. Also nice for the upper snow fields. Small rock rack and pins carried but not used.


Approach Notes:

No sweat!

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Nice! I saw this line a few years ago while hanging out at Mr. Purple Nice Guy pass (named by Pat Gallagher). Looked like a cool route, but hard!

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It was a great climb! And it had great ice the entire way with the exception of the last ten feet which gets more sun exposure and required a few mixed moves to pull over a small bulge.


Thanks to Dana for being a great partner, keeping things calm when the climbing got tough, and making it work!


Adding a couple pictures showing the route:



Showing the four routes on the North Face of Colfax. Ford's Theatre is hidden from view on a normal approach.




Showing the ice pitches of Ford's Theatre. The circles show our belays. It was probably 70 - 80 M of ice before topping out into the snow fields (just below the last belay). The top of the snowfields in these pictures head over a small ridge and join up with the top of the Cosley-Houston snow fields.





Looking up the climb from the belay at the base. Dana is sitting at the first belay.

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indeed, well named sirs - go do a route near the polish one n call it "our american cousin" :)

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Looks like we got a name theme going. Strong work fellas! I will be checking that out for sure. :brew:

Edited by Riley81

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I saw this a few years back. Probably most of the time this will be buried (mostly) under a lot of snow. Good job of snagging FA.

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Great job Andrew and Dana! Nice TR, good topos and pics, :) and of course excellent naming too!!

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Nice job Dana and Andrew! Word is getting out! We climbed Cosley-Houston yesterday May 10. Heard from several people along the approach that Ford's Theatre saw it's second ascent on Saturday May 9 with skis on their backs (Discllaimer: we did not hear from the climbers themselves, so this information could be incorrect). The only evidence was that we saw their fresh tracks coming up from above Ford's Theater onto the exit steep snowfield and joing with the Cosley-Houston exit.

Edited by JeffreyW

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