Category Archives: Climbing

Cutthroat Wall, Easy Getaway: No Surrender

Cutthroat Wall, Easy Getaway: No Surrender

Friday, July 8th, 2016

20 years from now, Sam and I will say we were there, there at the birth of a classic… I’d be lying if I claimed that thought was going through my head as I down-climbed towards the middle of pitch two after an ill conceived foray and subsequent fall in lichen laden territory on the Cutthroat Wall. As Sam belayed from above, and I placed gear on our retreat, the team next door was rapping after two pitches on Perfect Crime (5.9). Was Easy Getaway (5.9) an instant classic?

To answer this question, I must draw upon my extensive knowledge of Washington multi-pitch alpine routes of the grade. To be frank, I’ve climbed one other, Outer Space, which is an indisputable classic of West Coast rock. After the classic, I know what it takes. Sustained, steep, splitter. I’ve been on it. Case closed, right?

Easy Getaway is none of these things, not to be confused with nothing at all. It is dirty and wild and broken in a way that engenders intimacy. You can see the line up Outer Space from a mile away. On Easy Getaway, you can’t see the line for the lichen, ahem trees, when it’s six inches from your face. Crystals stud the rock in the afternoon sun while water rushes over a granite bench in the distance. Go for the rock quality, the setting and the adventure, but don’t expect a straight shot to the top.

Approach

Park at the Cutthroat Lake Trailhead a few miles east of Washington Pass. There are free campsites on the creek side, if you need a place to crash. Follow an overgrown road bed climbers left of the main trail. Cruise this for longer than you think but no further than the creek. Bushwhack up left along the path of least resistance. Trend right. The base of the wall is level with a set of broad waterfalls. The base is characterized by a large granite bench.

Disclaimer: Sam and I were off route for portions of this climb. Some of our pitches were shorter, some of them were longer than described elsewhere. Let it be a warning and an example of the merits of the route.

P1

Head up and left from the granite patio to a corner that takes pro. Cruise this towards the small roof, which is easy to send in a move over to the right. Climb up slab/crack. We belayed from a horizontal crack at the base of block. Probably could have ended earlier.

P2

Lead up and right from the belay into a clean orange corner. Beware, the corner continues with nice, albeit filled in, cracks to the base of a block above. Don’t go that way. Head right out of the corner shortly after you enter it.

We overshot the corner and had to down climb back to the top of P2.

P3

Really nice layback crack on this one.

P4

Up and right to the small overhang (1 or 2 moves). Ride the corner all the way to where it dead ends in the overhang. Undercling and step out along horizontal cracks that lead out of the corner. We belayed at a small tree right at the exit.

Sam climbs towards the first root, headed into the Zebra Corner.

P5

Sam took a burly lead through dirty slab up and right from the belay. I’m pretty sure we were off route here, but he did a great job. Great hand cracks up to a tree belay.

P6

More fun and engaging climbing up through a deep blocky crack. I managed to squirm my way up the left crack. Sam found face features just left of the block system that got him through. Easy climbing as high as rope length/drag will allow.

Descent

Scramble up and to the right from the top of your last pitch if it’s not too hairy. Contour around until the head of a gully with a rap station. Rap. Sam found an old rope jammed in the chockstone at the end of the first bench. Our 60m rope didn’t get us all the way. We rapped again from cordellette and an old biner at the second bench.

The scramble down from here is steep and loose. It funnels into a bedrock gully where it’s quite easy to release rocks. I wouldn’t want to do this with people above or below. Pinball alley.

Snow Creek Wall, Outer Space

Snow Creek Wall, Outer Space

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

What originally was planned as a weekend mission out to climb Leavenworth, became a day trip to do Outer Space when the weather went sideways. Turns out we missed a nasty day on Saturday too. The guy at the shop in town said “it just doesn’t rain like that here often”. However by Sunday it had all blown through so we cruised out there to take advantage of the second longest day of 2016.

We left Seattle a little after 8am arriving in the Snow Creek parking lot about 1030am. We were on the trail by 11am. It took us about 50 min to get to the cut off to cross Snow Creek. The trail cuts left after crossing the creek, goes over some logs and then joins a well worn path up the hill to the base of the wall. We skipped that though, in favor of a bushwhack up the right side until we got worn out and traversed over to the base of the route.

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There were probably 3 or 4 teams on the wall when we arrived but it moves fairly quickly and we didn’t have to wait long to get going. We started on the Remorse variation, to the left of the vegetated gully. It sort of just meanders left until you hit the ledge just within earshot and almost a full 70 meters of rope out. From there the second pitch climbs the ramp to the right straight up the the Two Tree ledge and joins with Outer Space proper.

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From here we found our groove and knocked off the crux pitch up to the short pedestal ledge where we sat and thought about climbing while we let a couple of faster local dudes pass us. They were nice about it though and despite going ahead, they left some rock for us to climb.

From there it is two pitches of a steep, splitter hand crack to the top. The crack is only interrupted once at the start of the final pitch with a bit of a tough move, stepping left off of the belay ledge and using a finger crack and a couple of far left knobs.

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We topped out a bit before 7pm and rushed down to beat the light. The walk off sucks big time but it is well marked so I guess whatever. I think we were back at the base of the wall by 8pm and back at the car by 930pm. Over all a great climb, a classic route and a very long day.

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Mt. Shuksan, North Face

Mt. Shuksan, North Face

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Summary

They told us the approach would be hell this late in the season. It was, but we’ll never admit it.

The Details

Car to Base of White Salmon Glacier, 4:00-7:15

We parked at the gate to White Salmon Lodge, left the car at 4am and walked the road past the lodge to the base of Chair 8.
There was plenty of snow. Material online and on paper described two ways forward from here. The first has you traverse along Shuksan Arm, maintain elevation where you can and generally avoid the dense brush in the valley. The second has you drop immediately from Chair 8 through an old clear cut to the valley floor. We went with option one and found a suitable place to cross the first (of many creeks) several hundred feet upstream. In general, our route from here maintained elevation along the Arm. We did a fine job, but sloppy snow, cliff bands and creeks made progress relatively slow. This approach worked well, though would have been better with more snow. We felt smug as hell on the open slopes below Shuksan. Where was all the alder we’d been warned about? Naysayers be damned!

Open Slopes to Base of NF, 7:15-9:00

With plenty of light, and a clear view of the saddle below the NF, we picked up the pace of travel. The debris field beneath the Hanging Glacier impresses the power of the mountain upon the observer. Don’t mess around.

We trended climber’s right and wrapped up and around a large rock outcropping in the path to the saddle. In retrospect, trending climber’s left  might have been more efficient, especially with more coverage. The snow surface was variable. Frozen and hard in some places, and soft in others. Wet skins and loose corn eventually brought us to the saddle. We had a quick snack, donned harness and threw skis on our packs.

Traverse from Saddle to NF, 9:15-9:45

We were roughly an hour behind schedule, but decided to push out toward the face. This section has a lot of exposure. Cliffs rise to your right, and Price Lake is visible several thousand feet below. The slope isn’t that steep but it left me on edge. At this point, we were pretty concerned with the quality of the snow. It was wet and soft to a depth of 10-15 inches. Even though this section had received sun for several hours, it was clear it hadn’t frozen the night before. As boots displaced snow, we kept a very close eye on the progress of rollers down slope. They didn’t entrain other snow, generally broke up a dozen feet below us. We proceeded with caution into the hot sun.

NF Ascent, 9:45-12:45

Tim and I took stock of the line, and the terrain we just crossed. We acknowledged that we didn’t want to retreat along the traverse later in the day given continued solar affects. We committed to topping out. The first 500 feet had some large cracks. We navigated them without too much trouble and avoided the main runnel that runs down the face wherever possible. One can see exposed rock above, and the lines written by releases of yesterday.

We trended climber’s right and at about 6,900 ft (10:45) passed through a notch between two rocks. At this point, exposure from cliffs above the lower face decreased. We took a deep breath and established a rhythm as snow firmness increased with elevation gain.

It’s worth noting that this section of the climb is steeper and receives less early morning sun this time of year. The breeze picked up as well. Tim set a g-o-r-geous boot pack in firm conditions on the upper face. I wished I had a second ice tool.

Lunch & Options, 12:45-14:00

The rock that borders the top of the climb make an excellent lunch perch, with astounding views to Price Lake and the valley below… Not to mention the summit pyramid of Shuksan. When we left the car that morning, we weren’t planning to ski back down the NF. Needless to say, the climb hadn’t changed our minds. We had two (reasonable) options from here. Circumnavigate the summit pyramid (and possibly summit) or take the Hanging Glacier to the White Salmon (via the Upper Curtis). The decision was postponed until we toured up to the saddle SE of our resting place.

From here, we were able to see the upper reaches of the HG to our west and the Crystal to our south. A quick look at the time and the smooth corn to the west, and we made the easy decision to save the summit for another day. In retrospect, this was a fantastic choice.

Descent to End of Snow, 14:00-16:00

Perfect corn down the HG to the Upper Curtis. We were cautious for several reasons, the most obvious being cracks. We also didn’t want to miss the entrance to the White Salmon, somewhere to skier’s right. As we approached the ridge separating the Curtis from the White Salmon, Tim wondered if we could tour up along the Arm. Anybody know if that’s a viable route?

Our last few cuts on the Upper Curtis were a turning point in the tour. All of a sudden, loose wet became a major concern. Hot pow cut from our tracks slid slowly down the steep glacier.

At the top of the White Salmon, the snow is less exposed to the sun. We evaluated the terrain and plotted a route down. The first 500 feet were consumed boarding fall line on quality corn. There are many roll-overs, we paused atop each to avoid boxing ourselves in.

DownSalmon

The temperature increased dramatically and snow quality suffered. The remainder of the descent was spent minimizing exposure to wet loose. We traversed left across the slope toward mellower terrain, cliffs below. Nothing major released, though some slow movers plodded away.

Some good hot turns and a few short carries took use all the way to the end of snow. Phew. As we drank the last of our water and shared a final bar, our thoughts turned to open roads and full changes…

 

The Alder Path, 16:00-17:15

The Arm wasn’t on our list. It was hot on the way in. We knew it was a dead end on the way out. We generated a mental map of the valley, noting where we’d break up through the trees toward Chair 8. It looked close, doable in an hour.

The first 30 minutes were spent trailing creeks, reminding me why I like summer in the mountains. Then the undergrowth got thicker and thicker. In retrospect, it wasn’t too bad…

We were close, maybe 200 yards from the clear cut. The alder was thick, and we’d been up and down the creek looking for a place to cross. We back tracked to the pool below the waterfall and charged in. Drained boots on the far side, wrung out socks and swore never to admit the alder had been as bad if not worse than David claimed it would be.

We’re on it Now, 17:15-19:00

One of Tim’s many great qualities is his ability to buy in, to validate the reality and cultivate an attitude that gets you through to the other side. Coming out of the valley was tough. Tim wrestled his way up steep slopes through the trees and brush. I tagged along.

There’s not much to say about this section. Not much advice to give. I guess do it early in the season, or don’t do it at all, or just do. When we finally squeezed through the brush onto the gravel road below Chair 8, we were a thousand steps from dry feet and a big gulp of water. Amen.

Bye Bye Big Gulp, 19:00-22:45

We arrived at the car triumphant, having just passed a nice couple on their way to a sunset picnic. Bags hit the pavement, I threw my ski boots off and started digging for the vest that held my keys. When I saw all 3 zippers gaping, I knew immediately. The keys were gone. All the times I’d thrown that thing around flashed before my eyes. For all I knew, they were sitting at the top of the North Face.

Bye bye big gulp. Bye bye dry shoes. We were stuck. Eli, Tim’s brother came to the rescue. After mere seconds of pleading, he agreed to drive out to pick us up. He even grabbed a spare set of car keys from my beloved housemate, Evan.

Tim and I killed the time doing laps up to White Salmon Lodge to stay warm. We ate palm fulls of crushed ritz crackers and begged water from kind motorists. By the time Eli arrived, I was fading in and out of cold sleep on the pavement. Tim was whistling to himself, mumbling about northern lights.

Mount Baker, Easton Glacier Route

Mount Baker, Easton Glacier Route

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

A week of sun and 70 degree temperatures in the city will begin to induce touring withdrawal symptoms for even the heartiest of peakers. With raging monkeys clawing at our backs, we set our weekend sights for a fair-weather summit attempt of Washington’s 3rd highest mountain and stratovolcano, Mt. Baker (10,800′). The snowpack this year has been deeeep, and with summer weather forecasted for the mountain, conditions looked ‘absolutely splitter’ – to quote D.B. Kiker himself.

For Brian and I, this would be our first experience with glacier travel so a large part of the trip was educational. If you happened to be at Gasworks Park last Thursday, then yes, we were those kooks pretending to rescue each other out of imaginary crevasses in the grass.

We chose the Easton Glacier route, and Ranger reports indicated that the road was still snowed-in for about mile before the trailhead.

1:00 PM: Parked the car at 3000’ elevation, threw the splitboards into tour mode, and hit it. A large section of un-snowed dirt road about 100 yards around the first bend in the road forced us to portage the boards on our backs for a bit, but trailhead access was uneventful other than that ~ 1 hour.

Touring up the Road

** Touring the snow-covered road pre trailhead

We followed the well-defined sled trail about 1500 vertical feet from the trailhead up to the start of railroad grade, where the sled tracks broke-off into the valley above. 3:30PM

Garrett Railroad Grade

** Garrett starting up the valley – railroad grade on the left. With the snow from earlier in the week compacted and wet from the heat, the snowmobile tracks made for easy touring.

6:00PM: With daylight waning, we exited the north end of the valley, and set up camp at 6500’, just below the Easton Glacier. The night was clear and the views were spectacular.

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**Brian and David scoping out a campsite

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**Sunset view of the San Juans

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**Night Mountain.  Roman Wall & Summit on left, Sherman Crater in middle

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**Turning in for the night

3:00 AM – Wake-up. Clear sky allowed the temperature to drop overnight and freeze snow. A leisurely morning of pacing for warmth, hugging warm coffee mugs, and packing camp leaves us ready to hit the trail at 6AM. Splitboard crampons required.

Rope-up

**Roping-up to start the day. We ascended through the saddle to the NW (top right), then pointed directly to the Sherman Crater.

The snow was very firm throughout the morning, but splitboard crampons made short work of the first 2200’. At 9000’ the grade steepened, necessitating a switch to boot crampons and board carry to the Sherman Crater.

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** Approaching the Sherman Crater. Roman Wall to left. If you look real close, you can see two people (dots) just to the edge of the shadow formed by the left crater.

This early in the season there was minimal crevase exposure. Throughout the ascent and descent we saw just 2-3 open crevasses that were small and easily avoidable. Worth noting that it’s important to remember the location of these for the snowboard descent, else you end up having to do a last second emergency ollie.

11:00 AM: We stopped for a quick lunch at the crater rim

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*David and Brian taking a breather

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**Brian and Garrett on the Sherman Crater lip

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**David contemplating the meaning of life

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** The Sherman Crater was smoking like a chimney

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Revitalized, we cramponed our way to the summit by noon with boards on our backs. At this time of day the Roman Wall was very steep and icy – even a boot crampon ascent felt sketchy.

Obligatory summit pics:

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Fearing that the bottom of the mountain would become a slushy mess, we strapped on our boards and rode down quickly after reaching the summit. In retrospect, we could’ve waited until ~1PM to descend – which would’ve made the roman wall a bit more enjoyable.

Phenomenal Corn skiing was to be had below the Sherman Glacier. Packed up camp quickly at 6500’, and snowboarded the remainder of the way out.

3:00 PM: Arrival back at the trailhead

Tatoosh, Unicorn Peak

Tatoosh, Unicorn Peak

Saturday, April 2nd, 2016

At a certain point in early Spring, as the weather begins to warm and the sun makes more frequent appearances, us peakers find ourselves with a dilemma: should we keep ski touring or jump to the rock? But with the snow pack still deep and the sun shining strong for the last day of March – Andrew and I shot back – “why not both?”

Unicorn Peak would fit the criteria. The largest mountain in the Tatoosh Range is just a stone’s throw from Mount Rainier. It has great road access, good vertical for skiing, and a summit block that would help shake off the climbing rust.

We left Seattle at 6:30 AM and arrived at the parking lot (Narada Falls) at 9:00 AM and started our tour along Stevens Canyon Road. It is mostly flat as you pass some lakes on the left (Reflection, Louise) and the turnoffs for Castle and Pinnacle Peak on the right. After 2 miles on the road you will get your first view of the objective – Unicorn Peak.

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**Unicorn shrouded in the clouds**

After 3.5 miles on Stevens Canyon Road, we picked up the Snow Lake Trail. The Snow Lake Trail took us to… Snow Lake, at which point we observed significant wet-loose activity from the previous week’s warming trend. Be careful here as there are slide paths all  around the lake; I would caution against coming here with any major instability in the snow pack.

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**Wet loose slides above Snow Lake**

At this point the route becomes fairly straight-forward. We headed toward the gully above the lake, which spits out into a breathtaking ski bowl with 180 degrees of good skiing aspects. Shot on time, we then moved east toward the saddle between Unicorn and the unnamed summit to the southwest. The top of this is the steepest section of the tour; thankfully we had Andrew to lay it down.  Dude is a hoss.

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**Beast Mode Powers**

Once we topped out on the saddle, it was a ridge walk to the Unicorn summit block. At this point we got the rock gear out and made for the true summit. We took the direct 5.6 variation. It required 4 pieces of gear. There is various webbing tied to a tree at the top which you can use for an anchor. BEWARE: as I was cleaning the route, I stepped on a 2′ x 2′ boulder which completely gave way. The rock here is very porous. Actually it’s worse than that, it is disintegrating.

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**Andrew rappelling summit block**

We topped out at 2:00 PM, took some pics of Rainier behind our athletic, sculpted bodies, and rappelled down to the skis. We skied the line we came up on and it was gorgeous. Soft, carvable corned snow all the way back to Snow Lake where we put the skins back on and made haste for the car.

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**Andrew clicking in at the top**

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**Almost makes you want to ski…. almost**

All in all, a great day with great company, dilemmas be damned.

Smith Rock, Pioneer Route

Smith Rock, Pioneer Route

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Last week I was able to get out of the rain for a two day trip to Smith Rock. The weather was perfect – low 50s and sunny during the day – also known as sending temps, bro. After a long winter of climbing plastic in the gym, our first day involved Keith and I getting reacquainted with climbing real rock. We jumped on a few moderate routes, mostly 5.8s and 5.9s. We were even able to snag an ascent of five gallon buckets without waiting in line!

We got up early the next day to try and beat the crowds up the Pioneer Route on the Monkey Face. As we approached we saw a pair of climbers cruising up the bolt ladder – but nobody else. Little did we know, those two were guides that were setting up a Tyrolean into the Monkey’s mouth for 27 clients.

Smith Rock 3/23/16

A busy day on the Monkey Face. You can barely see the tyrolean in the upper left.

The guidebook gives a good description of the route but it involves an easy (5.5) trad pitch up to a ledge with multiple bolted anchors. This puts you directly below a line of about 20 bolts that Keith aided up and I got my first experience jumaring behind him. Once into the mouth, we were able to climb the top pitch in between clients coming through. This pitch is definitely the money pitch, with steep, juggy, and crazy exposed 5.7 climbing. After taking in the views of the central Oregon volcanoes we used the guided parties’ rap line for the free hanging rappel. 2.5 hours after we started we got back to the packs and enjoyed a sandwich. We climbed a couple of cool-down sport pitches on the way back to the car and went back to the rain in Portland.

Keith following the first pitch of the Pioneer Route.

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Sam’s summit pose on top of the Monkey Face

The Grand Teton, Upper Exum

The Grand Teton, Upper Exum

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

It has been a bit since any peaks were logged on the peak of the week. So The Grand is a good one to break up the drought. The climb was going to happen several different ways, including an original plan to camp overnight in the meadow and climb the Full Exum Ridge on the second day, but I was told that the weather in Jackson has been grey for a lot of the summer and the week of our planned climb was not an exception. Since Thunderstorms were threatening on Wednesday we decided to forgo the Lower Exum Ridge and try to climb the whole thing via the Upper Exum on Tuesday.

Me and Nick started off from the Lupine Meadows trailhead at 4:15 am. The early hours in the dark always goes quick and we were rounding the corner into Garnet canyon by the time the sun was coming up a little after 5:30 am. From there we started checking off the various campsites as we went by. First the meadows, then the caves, then a detour right, up to Jackson Hole Mountain Guides camp were they corrected my course and I reunited with Nick down at the moraine camp. It is kind of hard to get off track here but I saw the guide huts up on the hill to the right and figured they were on route. As it is, the trail stays low and runs pretty much a straight shot up to the saddle.

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From the moraine it is about 900 ft up to the lower saddle at 11,650 ft where the Owen-Spalding and both the Exum and Petzle Ridges really come into view. We stopped to refill the water bottles at a garden hose that utilizes a spring and then headed north up toward a black dike in the rock. At this point you have options for what you want to attack. The Owen-Spalding continues the obvious trail to the upper saddle. The Lower Exum access cuts way right to a chimney you can see on your way up.

We continued toward the upper saddle and then cut right at 12,500 ft across a big gully to Wall Street, a big ledge on the west side of the ridge. Here we roped up for the rock section of the climb. It was around 10:30 or 11:00 am at the point and the ledge is in the shade until you come around the corner to the jump off spot. It is a fairly easy move but very exposed. While doing it, it is wild to imagine Glen Exum leaping over it in his original 1931 solo climb of the route.

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The next few pitches included the Golden Stair and the Friction, which aside from those two we simulclimbed much of. Nearing the top we cut left, and climbed the V pitch, my favorite of the day. After that we wandered around until we hit the summit, topping out around 2:00 pm.

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Vesper Peak, The Ragged Edge

Vesper Peak, The Ragged Edge

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Heading into the first weekend of August, Sam, David and I knew we wanted to climb. After heavy traffic on the Tooth and bad weather on Ingalls, we were looking for something less traveled with high quality rock, 4+ pitches and more challenging moves. On Vesper Peak The Ragged Edge route passed all criteria with flying colors.

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Sam planning happily on Friday night

We left the car at 9:15 am and even then, the hike up Trail 707 to Hardlee Pass was hot, exposed and beautiful in the morning light. We crested the pass at about 10:45 am and got a nice long look at the granite summit of Vesper Peak as we traversed the talus field directly after the pass.

The trail then crosses the outlet of Vesper Lake and climbs out of the lake basin toward the peak (scramble route). At some point, we decided that we should have left the scramble trail at the lake outlet. We could see a very direct looking couloir to our right. We down climbed to the base of the chute and powered to the top.

Looking down the couloir to the outlet of Vesper Lake

As we huffed and puffed our way out of the chute, the trail was in sight and several people we saw earlier in the day cruised by. Evidently, this “direct” grind did not save any time. That didn’t stop us from breaking from the trail immediately, veering toward the eastern flank (hiker’s right) of Vesper Peak. This turned out to be a good move.

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Sam and David head north east

After about 10 minutes of rock hopping, we arrived at a saddle on the north eastern side of the mountain where we gained outstanding views of the glaciated valley below. The rest of the approach wasn’t clear immediately. From this col, the approach traverses west under the north face of Vesper Peak. This is high consequence terrain, take your time and watch your step. You’ve reached the base of the climb when you can’t go any further without getting on rock. 2.5 hours to here.

Hugging the north face of Vesper

We geared up at the base of the first pitch and were sure to leave nothing behind. The Ragged Edge is a relatively new route (~2 years old) and while the rock is solid the climb took a bit of way finding. In some ways, this was complicated by the fact that the first two pitches trend west across the face.

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Sam takes stock at the top of pitch 2

After pitch 3, the route really starts to shine. The exposure is phenomenal. They call this The Ragged Edge for a reason. The route heads up a jagged, blocky rip in the middle of the face.

Scaling the edge on pitch 5

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David cleans the final piece

The Ragged Edge exceeded our expectations. It presented a lot of opportunities to learn without unnecessary risk. Climbing aside, this area is an absolutely spectacular section of the Cascades with plenty of exposure to alpine splendor.

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After a quick walk off the summit and dip in the lake, we were on our way. The car was a welcome sight at 7:30 pm. Another great day in the mountains.

Refer to this map to avoid our mistake:

Ingalls Peak, South Ridge

Ingalls Peak, South Ridge

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Hungry for some rock pitches, Tim, Andrew, and I set out for Ingalls Peak on Saturday 7/25. We weren’t going to let a 70% chance of rain/snow and 30 mph winds slow us down!

The approach follows the very pleasant trail towards Long’s Pass before heading West, up and over Ingalls Pass. None of us had been to Lake Ingalls before so we were all excited about the new terrain. It sure felt like a beautiful place from the few glimpses we got, but we mostly were looking at clouds. In fact, the entire Ingalls group was masked in clouds, so we had one false start and headed up a boulder field towards the wrong notch on the ridgeline. We soon realized our mistake and had a mini adventure finding our way to the start of the climb.

Route finding

In typical fashion, the rain picked up as we arrived at the base of the first pitch. Finding shelter under a small overhang we racked up and soon Andrew was plugging his way up the fun, gigantic cracks that comprise the first pitch. Tim and I were basking in our wind protected belay stance but could hear the howling up above. Andrew brought us up to the first ledge and the shivering commenced.

The first pitch…with extra rope drag!

The second pitch was a short one to the base of the final slab, which has a beautiful, easy crack up the middle. Well, it was actually nasty and wet and felt pretty hard, but in our sunny imaginations the rock  was great and the climbing easy. On top we took in the clouds for about 2 minutes, snapped some photos, and got out of there. Two double rope rappels got us down. A couple nips of whiskey and an hour and a half of hiking got us to the car, right in time for the sun to start shining.

 

Andrew on the final slab

Andrew on the final slab.

Timbo summit shot

Timbo summit shot.

Andrew rapping

Andrew rapping.

Another great day in the mountains!

Another great day in the mountains!

Dragontail, The Enchantments

Dragontail, The Enchantments

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

This one is a bit over due. I wasn’t planning on writing anything on the Dragontail hike, but it was such a rad trip and I was kind of thinking that it deserves its own place in the log of peaks here.

We started around 8 am from the Stuart Lake trail head, leaving the splitboards at home for lack of snow. I had been up to Aasgard two weeks before with the intention of snowboarding but the snow is scarce below 7800 ft.

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2 hours up to Colchuck Lake. Stopped for a long lunch and another 2 hours to the top of the pass. Plenty of snow up top but not much below. It was the first weekend of permitting in the Enchantments for the season so we saw few people throughout the day. From the top of Aasgard we hiked along the North side of the basin on mixed snow and rock until about 8400 ft  where you take the obvious traverse up to the saddle at 8500 ft. From there it is just a rock scramble up the south face with great views of Iron, Earl and Navajo Peaks, to the top where the rest of Washington comes into view, a little less that an hour from the top of the pass.

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The trek back to the trail head is probably the hardest part of the day after the water runs out and the dogs start barking, but the scenery never gets tired, and the four of us, Shawn, Maddie, Alex and I made it back the the truck by 7 pm. Plenty of light left.