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ilias

[TR] Paisano Pinnacle - Mosquito Apocalypse 6/28

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Trip: Paisano Pinnacle - Mosquito Apocalypse

 

Date: 6/28/2015

 

Trip Report:

On Saturday Allie and I climbed The Girl Next Door (5.9-, 4p) on Liberty Bell. Plan was to do that as warm up, then hike in to the bench camp near Burgundy Col and do the Paisano Pinnacle WR and Burgundy Spire NF linkup on Sunday. The Girl Next Door was a really fun climb and we both enjoyed it. Pitch 1 is uninspiring, but pitches 2 and 3 are awesome. Then you share the pitch 4 slab finish with the Beckey route. The hike in to bench camp went well, but camp was infested with bugs. We set up camp and quickly dove into our tents, spending the next 5 minutes killing the giant swarm of bugs that got into the tent in the 20 seconds the door was open.

 

We woke up Sunday morning at 4:30 am to give ourselves plenty of time and headed up to the base of the route. We had heard the route start was hard to find so we'd read up on all the beta and were able to make it there without any confusion.

 

But, it was the mosquito apocalypse. We kept thinking that if we got higher, above treeline, the mosquitoes wouldn't be there. But they only got worse and worse. The very air was thick with them. They were in my eyes, in my nose, in my mouth. At any given moment, there was at least 50 of them biting me. Looking over at Allie, she constantly had a cloud of at least 100 around her.

 

Despite the blistering heat, we put on our hardshells to at least partially protect us from the bugs. Between my pants and my shell and bugspray on my face (we didn't have enough to totally cover our whole bodies in it), most of my body was covered... except my hands and ankles. Allie was not as lucky, the bugs could bite right through her pants. Bleeding and itching from thousands of bug bites, we ran away from the base of the Paisano route and headed up to Burgundy col, thinking the breeze there might clear them away. They were slightly better, but we were still getting hundreds of bites per minute.

 

In our excessive level of stoke, we decided that since we were right there, we'd at least try climbing up one pitch of the Burgundy Spire North Face route to see if the mosquitoes were any better once we were on the bare rock face. Nope! Even worse up there. Belaying was absolute torture. We ended up doing the first two pitches of that route to get to Burgundy Ledge, then quickly tagging Paisano Pinnacle via the class 3 scramble from Burgundy Ledge. Then we ran away, bleeding from thousands of bites and our morale totally broken.

 

I've hiked and climbed in the cascades for years, and I've seen plenty of bugs. This was the absolute worst bug infestation I've ever seen. Nothing else I've encountered has come close. Today, my hands and ankles are swollen and misshapen from tens of thousands of mosquito bites. Everything itches and I can hardly do anything.

 

Lessons learned: You may not need DEET on most cascade outings, but for that one time you need it, you REALLY need it. One tiny bottle for 2 people is not enough. Never ever leaving home without a full size spray bottle of 100% DEET again.

 

Gear Notes:

DEET. More DEET. Even More DEET. Bug Nets. Hard shells.

 

Approach Notes:

Nice hike to camp. Loose scree to base of route. Follow the instructions in Supertopo precisely (pay exact attention to the elevations he tells you to take right turns at) and it gets you right to the base, no problem. Have a good photo of the start of the route so it's obvious where the actual start is.

Edited by ilias

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Ha! They're most terrible when the snow is almost completely melted out. Should be back to normal in a week or two.

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Sounds brutal. As I read that I was having PTSD from the mosquitoes while hiking to the base of Stuart. Those things were relentless. Doesn't sound as nasty as your experience though.

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Ilias, you have a Harrowing Tale of Horror in the Mountains. I'm itching and swelling up just from reading. If Allie goes back up with you, she is mas macho. Or insane.

I was 4th classing a Cascades summit block and a flock of evil mosquitos bit through my shirt, and I reflexively let go to slap em. I barely caught myself--nearly took The Big Ride! Then I painfully weighed whether to let go to kill them and die myself, or let the bastards keep injecting their itch poison... And once -only once- I made a small smudge fire above 5,000'.

That's how much I hate mosquitos.

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