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Kautz conditions/Descent plans


JDCH
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Howdy-

 

Heading up the Kautz next week. From what i can tell, it looks to be in good shape. Anyone know otherwise?

 

More importantly, trying to decide on my descent plan. I know its fairly standard to carry over to the DC, but that sounds like a shit show right now. Has anyone descended the Kautz? Does it suck even worse than the DC would?

 

Thanks for looking

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JDCH, we are also heading up this weekend. We plan to descend via Kautz. First time I did the route, we descended DC, which was not enjoyable given the traffic and soft snow. WE figured with a few rappels will be much more enjoyable (and faster) descending via Kautz.

 

My question is related to the route. Does anyone think the fan is too dangerous right now. There is no snow on the slope (nearly gone since May). Would the rock fall hazard be risky? Or is Van Trump route really the best alternative?

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We went up the Kautz Glacier route a few weeks ago, June 20-21. The route was in great shape at that time. We simulclimbed the two steep bits and used screws for protection. We carried over and descended the DC route, which was super easy -- the guide services put in a lot of work to keep it in shape -- and we summitted at 10:15 a.m., after the crowds had descended.

 

The Fan was tedious but fine. No problems with rockfall.

 

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Just heard from Kurt Hicks who was up there a few days ago.

 

Sounds like he descended the route and it was OK. He said the comet falls trail and not the nisqually was the way to go, but I'm trying to figure out if it's worth the extra 1500' of gain...

 

Anyone done that approach before? Is it a bunch of extra gruel?

 

Regarding the route, Kurt said it was in good shape, the lower pitch at around 120M, and the upper at around 160M

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my buds went, i skipped in part because the mnt is so far gone for the time of year due to low snow.

 

will try to get more details but they bagged it at 13,300 due to unpassable crevasse. maybe they'll post the info of what they saw here.

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my buds went, i skipped in part because the mnt is so far gone for the time of year due to low snow.

 

will try to get more details but they bagged it at 13,300 due to unpassable crevasse. maybe they'll post the info of what they saw here.

 

LB summitted, IK napped at 13k. LB said it was cracks intersecting cracks and totally ridiculous.

 

Definitely isn't going to be climbable much longer... get on it now if you want it, and make sure you have plenty of time for route finding.

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went yesterday, 7/19.

 

Ice was okay but not amazing; some dinner plates broke off and our crampons felt more secure than our tools.

 

No boot track above second pitch. We traversed the upper kautz glacier back and forth several times trying to negotiate crevasses. (We ascended up the face to Point Success rather than cross over the Nisqually.) The crevasses are basically impassable - not safely passable. We were up there moderately late (say 10 a.m.) there was water running under the heavily sun cupped and penitented face. I punched a foot through in one spot. Ice tinkled into the creek in the glacier below. it was sketchy - we may have gone the wrong way, though. I've done a little research and it looks like the preferred route is to cross onto the Nisqually at the top of the Wapowty Cleaver. We did pop our heads over there, but that looks way too broken up to be a safe option either.

 

Anybody hear about the group of five who did the route yesterday? They were about 1200' below us. I didn't see them come down DC, either.

 

Two climbing rangers were climbing the route yesterday so they will probably have some impressions to share.

 

Napped at 13.9K', Ben :-)

Edited by astrov
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Most go over the Wapowty Cleaver to the Nisqually because that is the more direct way to Columbia Crest. Going up of the left side of the cleaver is good but suffers from sun cupping perhaps more so than the Nisqually which can have more cracks. However, one can then bag Point Success. Probably the least visited of the three summits.

 

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A few things:

 

Use Comet Falls. the net gain is only about 500' compared to the lower nisqually approach (if you count climbing back up the moraine on the descent). The lower nisqually looks absolutely atrocious. Trust me. You couldn't pay me to cross that zone or go up the Fan right now.

 

Cross over Wapowety Cleaver around 13,000' and gain the DC track around 13,600'. It was easy last week.

 

as for the descent--take a v-thread tool. The ice steps total to about 350m of ice (of variable steepness). Comfort downclimbing and a long rope (60M) will make it faster. the skier's left edge may allow you to rap off some penitentes for the upper half.

 

 

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The Nisqually was a little sketchy right before the Fan, but nothing compared to the Upper Kautz. That's the dangerous part of the route IMHO at the moment, and you're still facing it if you go up Van Trump approach. Sounds like we should have turned back onto the Nisqually at the top of Wapowtey Cleaver, but that didn't look passable.

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Kurt Hicks:

 

Will do. You and I think alike regarding risk.

 

I was up the Kautz via the Nisqually in 2013, so the Comet Falls approach will be an interesting variation.

 

I also expect the Upper Kautz not to be passable, but will give it a good look.

 

Thank you.

Edited by Big Mitch
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The upper Kautz and getting off the Wapowety onto the upper Nisqually continue to be straight forward and non-sketchy. A couple cracks with solid, supported bridges and easy end runs to get through the Kautz and onto the cleaver. Getting off the cleaver is typical. Walk uphill a hundred meters or so, and turn right to cross on solid bridges to the Nisqually. Possibly easy to miss if you never poke your nose over there. Long easy rising traverse from there to the DC at 13,600.

 

Have fun.

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Got it, thank you.

 

I printed out a Google Earth aerial photo of the Upper Kautz and see exactly where I need to go. It is much better than a topo print out.

 

Two years ago, we were too far to the left side when we got up the second pitch. From that position, I could not see the Upper Wapowety Cleaver. When we moved to the NE, say 2 pm climbers right, we ran into a giant crevass that we could not find a way around.

 

Once again, I thank all of you for helping me out here!

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BigMitch-just to throw this out there, Google Earth not recommended as a glacier navigation/crevasse avoidance tool. 2014 does not equal 2015. June does not equal July. Monday does not equal Tuesday.

 

You get the point.

 

Use your spidey-sense, not the interwebz...

Edited by jfs1978
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Fully understand how the upper mountain changes each year and throughout each year.

 

I was not using Google Earth to avoid crevasses, just to see where the route goes.

 

Somehow the photo is better than a topo map for me.

Edited by Big Mitch
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