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[TR] Dome Peak - Three Fingers, No Lube 6/29/2016

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Trip: Dome Peak - Three Fingers, No Lube


Date: 6/29/2016


Trip Report:


This was my first excursion up Suiattle River Road since it was washed out, and my first ever past the Green Mountain trailhead. Bulgers. Oh the places you'll go.


The plan was to bag Sinister, then Dome. The prior weekend, actually. However, weather instability, a marginal hydrological outlook und so weiter thwarted my best laid plans. Fortunately I have cool climbing partners with a commensurate appetite for torture and willingness to make shit happen at all costs.


I went to work on Monday and requested Tue-Thu off, wrapped up some loose ends and packed. Two of my partners had just completed a three-day ski tour of Glacier Peak, and met us rough and a bit ripe at the Downey Creek TH Tuesday morning.


A work crew was on site placing a brand new TH marker. We were impressed by the trail maintenance along the Downey Creek trail virtually all the way to 6 mile camp.


Soon thereafter things got ugly - at times uglier than a warthog's asshole.


In the 3, 4, or whatever miles from Bachelor creek's confluence with Downey up to the avy swath we must have encountered a hundred fallen trees. Most involved much more than a simple step over, and route finding on the far side of each was a given. And the brush. Holy fucking shit. We took the bypass at 4100 (as described by Franklin Bradshaw RIP, and others). That was our one relief and escape from Green Hell.




Sometimes you are the hammer and sometimes the nail. In this case Bachelor creek came down on my skull like a 16 pound sledge. But I got up it. My partners seemed completely unphased.


Time from TH to Cub Lake? 10 hours. Humbling. Demoralizing.




I mustered the willpower somehow and managed to move this ancient decrepit form up another 900' gain, crossing a waterfall and slick slabs to arrive at camp at 6200' on Itswoot 11.5 hours into the day.




Sunset at camp:



The conversation then turned to start time. Yeah, it sucks, but the best I could do was alarm set at 4 am.




We awoke to mist and clouds and headed up at 5:20. Time to the col should have been 2.5 or 3 hours but took just over 4. The snow was soft most of the way - not postholing, but enough to slow us down. The glacier was very smooth with only a few crevasses showing.


At the col near the toe of the Dome Glacier:







It was now late. 10:00 I think. I cautiously approached the top of the Chickamin expected a wall to wall Bergschrund. Nope, but it looked sketchy, and a punch through seemed more than plausible. I picked a line and started to slowly plunge step. After a dozen steps or so I set off a microslide. The conditions were classic as NWAC warns in its spring statement. Pinwheels. Wet snow. Entrained slide. FUCK. No sinister today. Fuck you Chickamin glacier.


High on the Dome Glacier



Next time, mother fucker:



Well, we could at least tag Dome and head back. How long will that take? It's only 400 feet up and class 3 with a few 4th class moves. 30 minutes? 40 max?




The third class terrain was covered with snow. At first there was a n Eldorado-like snow arete, then there was 4 inches to a foot or so of rock on climber's right with steep snow on the left. It took a couple hours for the four of us to work up to the summit, mainly because we were simulclimbing, and had to pass a knot between two climbers. Best laid plans. Underestimating your opponent. You name it.


View up from the sandy bivy sites at 8700'



View along the summit ridge



The author, stoked, on the summit:




Not much more to tell. We pitched it out on the descent - 3 30m pitches, then hiked back to camp. Near to camp we crossed a recently deposited swath of avy debris, including a serac the size of a refrigerator. Good times. Living the dream.


Day three involved a 9+ hour hike out and copious high fives and alcohol consumption at the TH. I have to get back somehow to tag Sinister.




Gear Notes:

Ice axe, crampons, helmet, rope, pickets, small alpine rock


Approach Notes:

Miles of blowdowns and brush.

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That is a lot of work, not that you need me to tell you that! You certainly seem motivated this year. Dark and Dome are no joke.


When you go for Sinister (NF!), might as well go in via Stehekin and tag Agnes and Gunsight as well. And Asa, if only to read the original summit register from 1908.

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Getting into sinister isn't easy. I think many climbers set off to climb dome and sinister in a day from itsawoot ridge but conditions shut many down. Thanks for the report, the snow pack won't quit this year.

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I would say doing Dome and Sinister together in a day is easier if you come in from the East and approach through the Gunsight notch. The Chickamin glacier is amazing!

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