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[TR] Mount Blum - North Ridge 6/28/2015


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Trip: Mount Blum - North Ridge


Date: 6/28/2015


Trip Report:

If you climb in the Cascades long enough, and aren't super talented, eventually you start to run out of "select" routes to climb. This can be a blessing, since the majority go to the more well known peaks and routes, while choss dawgs like myself 'schwack our way to solitude on lesser known peaks like Blum. At least that is what I keep telling myself when the approaches are as long and hot as Blum lakes was a couple weeks ago.


Tim and I both had had the NR of Blum on our lists for some time, and even a forecast for extensive lightning on Sunday wasn't enough to turn us to alternate objectives (we'll start early and move fast!). So, on a day that was supposed to be 99 in Marblemount we began the steep climb up Blum lakes, sweating in the jungle-like heat and humidity. There is actually a trail a lot of the way up the ridge, but you need to find it and stay on it. This is key. It starts near the bridge over Blum Creek, gradually becoming more defined as the angle increases. Where you begin the sidehill traverse to the lakes, however, it disappears.


If you've done everything right, it should only take about 4 hours to get to the lakes, maybe less if you are chasing someone like Tim. The lakes don't see much use so there aren't numerous or very established campsites, but you can find adequate sites near the middle lake outlet and the lower lake inlet. The NPS has killed off the fish in the lakes over the past several years, so leave the fishing gear behind.


We were up and away from camp around 5am thrashing in the dark and mosquitos to the upper lakes, again in jungle-like heat and humidity. I think it took us about two hours to wind around the mountain to the base of the route where we rounded the toe of the buttress and gained a couple hundred feet looking for the easiest line to gain the crest. Dodging crevasses, we found some rampy looking lines opposite an icefall and delicately worked our way onto the rock above a gaping moat. A few minutes after getting on the rock we heard a roar as a dump truck load of snow and ice chunks came rocketing down the glacier from a gully we couldn't quite see, just around the corner. It obliterated the area of the glacier we had just ascended. Tim and I looked at each other and shook our heads. This is not dad friendly terrain, I thought to myself.


Tim graciously offered to take the first couple run out and cruxy pitches (5.8+?) to get us to easy terrain near the crest where we unroped and scrambled for quite some time. This ridge is long! We simuled a few mid-fifth knife edge sections and then unroped for more scrambling (but still very exposed 4th and low fifth) the rest of the way to the final bit of steep snow below the summit. We changed into boots and kicked steps up to the summit, about 7 hours after leaving camp.


It was blazing hot on the summit and we could see the thunderheads and rain coming our way. Taking a few quick pictures, we ate our lunches and perused the summit register (which looks to have been struck by ligtning). Unfortunately it had been replaced recently; Tim and I were looking forward to the old register that had the complete ascent record of the peak (was still up there in 2008). We still had a lot of vertical to descend that day, so before we would have liked we began down.


A couple hours to camp, some whiskey, a quick swim, some packing, and another three painful hours down found us at the beer stash in Blum Creek, about 14 hours after leaving camp that morning. My quads hurt for the better part of the next week.




































Gear Notes:

Medium rack to 2". In a normal snow year and temps, ice axe and crampons.


Approach Notes:

Blum Lakes route. No water until the lakes

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