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lunger

first ascent [TR] Mt Triumph, new route on east face - Memento Mori, aka the Tom Thomas Memorial Route 9/12/2015

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Trip: Mt Triumph, new route on east face - Memento Mori, aka the Tom Thomas Memorial Route

 

Date: 9/12/2015

 

Trip Report:

Rolf and I finally got our stuff together this summer and enjoyed discovering a new line on Mt Triumph. It travels directly up the east face: Memento Mori (aka, “the Tom Thomas Memorial Route”), 8 pitches, 5.9+. Approx. 10 hours on the route. The NE ridge is of course off to the right, and quite a ways left/south is a 1985 route put up by Doorish and Cudkowicz; theirs tops out on the south ridge at perhaps mid-height (?).

 

Our belays are thinly marked in blue:

 

belays%252520marked%252520memento%252520mori%252520IMG_5237.jpg

 

A powerful moment en route occurred while climbing by Mr Thomas’s frayed rope hovering above our belay at the top of pitch 4. It’s been nearly 30 years since this kindred spirit passed, yet a stark reminder lingers in this spot. Affecting and sobering, even for crusty, salty types.

 

The route is characterized by a ton of juggy and often steep 5.8ish climbing, with many passages of 5.9, perhaps harder through the pitch 7 roof. The route primarily travels on surprisingly solid Skagit gneiss, excellent climbing rock by our standards. As with all mountain routes, there’s some loose rock, but many suspicious-looking blocks didn’t react to striking/kicking tests and were quite solid.

 

The route deserves more traffic than my photos indicate—an off day in that department. The tufts of vegetation are sparse and easily gardened when (infrequently) necessary. Get on this thing! It offers solid adventure and aesthetic pushing and pulling. Below is an uncharacteristic amount of beta to encourage traffic—suggest you ignore it for maximum enjoyment.

 

p1 - From the glacier, 4th/low 5th slab leads to the large ledge left of a huge chimney. Possibly 3rd/4th if you want to climb directly under the chimney.

 

p2 – Begin just left of the crack system leading to the white roof. Climb parallel cracks then commit to leftmost crack up left ramp. 5.8+, 60m

 

p3 – Climb the left-facing corner, with light rock on right and darker gray rock on left. When it clamps down, move left to a thin crack on the exposed left facet of the corner. Face climb to a semi-hanging belay. 5.9, 55m

 

Rolf follows p3:

 

IMG_5149.JPG

 

p4 – Continue up and slightly right to a pin belay below the end of the frayed rope hanging from the 1988 accident. The belay was exposed to some minor rockfall but options were limited. 5.8, 40m

 

Rolf launches p4:

 

IMG_5153.JPG

 

p5 – The changing corners (and changing again) pitch. A piece of work, this long fun pitch moves out over the roof below, immediately exposed, and requires some route-finding attention; I was grateful for our two ropes here. Begin by traversing right and up approx. 15m, making moves over an exposed rib and crack/chimney, then wend your way straight up adjacent corners and ribs, switching and picking the easiest possible way—which will still be steep, airy, and engaging. Belay at the base of the obvious lower-angled chimney/corner system. 5.9, 60m+

 

p6 – Up the corner and chimney system, skirt to the left of the big roof, find a key belay that affords shelter from potential looseness on the next steep pitch. 5.8, 40m

 

p7 – Surmount the roofs above, including a little bit of palming/stemming in a corner, to a good ledge. A short pitch but one of my favorite leads in recent memory. 5.9+, 30m

 

A couple poorly lit pics of Rolf moving up p7:

 

IMG_5166.JPG

 

IMG_5189.JPG

 

p8 – Step left to a strenuous boulder move gaining another ledge, then ramble rightward up to a good finish in a brightly scarred but solid corner near the ridge crest. Hit the NE ridge where it backs off to scrambling a couple hundred feet below the summit. 5.9, 45m

 

While these all had their moments, pitches 5 and 7 exemplify one kind of incredibly engaging climbing that draws me to the mountains. Should’ve taken a pic of Rolf following on pitch 5, but was flat tripping on the quality and quantity of climbing.

 

And of course, the views of the Pickets were typically inspiring.

More pics here: https://picasaweb.google.com/ewehrly/2015_09_12MtTriumphNewRoute?authuser=0&feat=directlink

 

We descended the South ridge for the complete alpine experience. Night befell us while still above the glacier, so we endured—I mean enjoyed—a shiver bivy on an exposed ridge. (Speaking of meditating on death: avoid an overnight cuddle with a skeleton.) While apparently neglected recently, this descent is actually kind of fun, and now is shored up with fresher tat.

 

Nice moody light show on the next morning’s descent:

 

IMG_5215.JPG

 

 

Gear Notes:

Medium-large rack up to 4", pins, glacier gear. Opinion: double ropes desirable.

 

Approach Notes:

As with NE Ridge approach, Thornton Lakes trail etc.; gain glacier where reasonable. (We approached Friday late afternoon and barely caught enough light to suss lines and make a try Saturday morning.)

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I thought the east face looked like it had potential for some great routes on great rock. I am surprised it went at 5.9+, it seemed like there were a lot of roofs, I would have expected much harder climbing. Excellent work!

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We descended the South ridge for the complete alpine experience. Night befell us while still above the glacier, so we endured—I mean enjoyed—a shiver bivy on an exposed ridge. (Speaking of meditating on death: avoid an overnight cuddle with a skeleton.) While apparently neglected recently, this descent is actually kind of fun, and now is shored up with fresher tat.

 

 

Guess next time you'll remember to take a puffy, won'tcha? How many huddle 'n cuddle bivies have you two shared together now?

 

Nice work on a cool looking route, and those extra pics are sweet.

 

 

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So would subsequent parties need pins? What's the pro like? R? PG? X? G?

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Nice work! Exciting looking climbing, and steep!

 

Does anyone have a write up on the accident? I am unfamiliar with it.

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thanks you guys!

 

'staafl, the answers are yes and too many respectively. pretty sure i'd still have shivered like a champ, my old puffy is pretty threadbare.

 

re: pro, there's actually quite a bit there when you need it--perhaps a couple minor runouts, but not for most folks who'd consider the route, and the hardest climbing is well-protected. re: pins, the only pins we used were on the belay top of p4 -- an angle and one other, i believe. you could build a belay without pins by climbing past our point a ways, or perhaps by stopping short of our belay. however, i'll wait for Rolf to chime in or correct me here.

 

re: the accident, the only write-up i could find is the link provided above [ Mr Thomas's frayed rope ]. on a climb of the NE ridge, Rolf recalled seeing Tom's gear hanging there shortly after the incident in the late '80s. yes, he's old; or rather, he's been climbing since he was a just a pinky (a rat pup).

 

again, want to emphasize how much fun i found this route--i think many of you would enjoy it.

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Alarming seeing the size of the glacier, I remember it much larger. but nice job. Also I believe tom Thomas has a hard ass alpine route on NE face of storm king mt ? in the Canadian rockies that's in sean dohterys(?) guide book

Edited by kukuzka1

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In my haste I missed that link, thanks! Eerie, and I'm sure lent an air of seriousness to the whole endeavor.

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So would subsequent parties need pins? What's the pro like? R? PG? X? G?

 

pins (kb & shallow smc angle in this case) not strictly necessary but you would then need to belay a bit lower and potentially climb together a bit more on p5. i'm sure you could work it out one way or another.

 

yes, tom did a fa on the northeast face of storm mountain. he, ken wallator and third also skied to mt. clemenceau, did a fa and skied out in 3 weeks during february back in the '80's.

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I thought the east face looked like it had potential for some great routes on great rock. I am surprised it went at 5.9+, it seemed like there were a lot of roofs, I would have expected much harder climbing. Excellent work!

 

The "+" may be the kicker there!

 

Great looking line youths.

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Another page in the impressive book you and the Rat are writing...seems like you guys will have to start doing things naked or with old school gear just to keep it interesting...

 

 

Awesome.

 

"His rope, with climbing rack, rock hammer, and footgear attached, was spotted suspended from anchors on the overhanging southeast face at 1970 meters."

 

Did you booty anything?

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Interesting to see this route completed. Mike Emers and I recovered Tom Thomas's body after his fall, and we never determined the cause of his accident. As my report to the AAC stated, he had a locking biner clipped to the front of his harness. We speculated that it may have been a rappelling accident that occurred while he was back-cleaning pro. Did you guys find anything hanging from the rope, or see how the rope was attached to the rock?

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Are you sure that you didn't pull on any gear? You are our only hope of bringing the 5.9 A2 grade into vogue in the Cascades. ;)

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That looks like so so so much fun! Nice work guys and thanks for the new line and stoke! :rocken: I will definitely give this one a try in the near future!

 

Such a cool mountain, too, that Triumph! Can imagine the feeling of seeing that old rope...wow! :shock:

 

Five exclamation points so far but it aint enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :[]

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Interesting to see this route completed. Mike Emers and I recovered Tom Thomas's body after his fall, and we never determined the cause of his accident. As my report to the AAC stated, he had a locking biner clipped to the front of his harness. We speculated that it may have been a rappelling accident that occurred while he was back-cleaning pro. Did you guys find anything hanging from the rope, or see how the rope was attached to the rock?

Thanks for the first-person perspective, Skeezix. It was a relatively short section of rope, frayed/splayed at the end with nothing attached. I only glanced in the direction of its mooring, our course took us right rather than climb up to it, which was fine by me as didn't really want to disturb that area--kinda spooky.

 

Hahaha Jason, I'd love to put up a 5.9 A2 route--someday maybe. But fortunately/unfortunately no, all free on this one.

 

An interested party asked me to provide a photo with the belays more clearly marked (smartphone screen?); here you go, FWIW:

 

belays%252520marked%252520BIGGER%252520memento%252520mori%252520IMG_5237.jpg

 

And kletterhund Tim, thanks yes it was v much fun on an undoubtedly cool mountain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!x1000000 Go get it.

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Rolf, you and Indiana Jones keep finding these relics.

 

I don't know how many are left, but glad to see to authentic individuals gathering them up.

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