Lillooet ’18

 

 

I am continually amazed at the great lengths I am willing to go in order to ice and mixed climb! With the multi billion dollar project/job cruising along at 55-60 hours/week, Doug and I (still)drove up to Lillooet after work Friday evening in rain and Seattle traffic, and picked off 2 classic routes on Saturday and Sunday. Then, back in time for another long Monday push at work. Damn I am tired, but happy to still have some capacity similar to when I was younger!

The 1st edition cover photo for West Coast Guide shows a pretty pitch named Capricorn. I had always wanted to do it, but was put off by the long approach. It was worth the slog however, though we messed up the approach. It is easy to accidentally start to far lookers right of the true approach. The main pitch/crux was steep at the top and wouldn’t have been that tough were it not for chandeliered conditions.

The main reason for going to all the trouble of driving hour after hour was to take a shot at a very new mixed route that seemed to be my type of climb. The rating for Bitcoin Billionaire intimidated  after getting humbled in the Canadian Rockies by similarly rated mixed climbs, but the route has a more alpine feel, and the rating shouldn’t scare off many aspirants. The highlights are the scritchey first pitch, 2 mixed chimneys with fun moves, and a satisfying wi4 finish. The setting is great, views and solitude lend a remote feel. It worked out to simo a few of the steps in the middle, and combine pitches. We placed a dozen rock pieces, and stretched the ropes out in 5 pitches. Nice day out to be striving for adventure! Thanks to Doug, Jenn, Caroline, and the BB FA team for putting out the good times!

Lillooet British Columbia Canada. is a small blue-collar town that was at one time popular with ice climbers, and may soon be again thanks to internet stoke. I used to go there often in my younger days, and I hope to more in the future!

Scroll past crappy pictures for account of the first ascent!

 

Danny O’Farrell‎ to West Coast Ice

January 9 at 9:46am · 

After working on the Bridge River for the last 3 years and over spending over 100 plus days working on fisheries conservation and monitoring with the Xwisten First Nations, I’ve spent a lot of time day dreaming of establishing new lines in the Bridge River Valley, as it’s a very special place for me. Over the last few months, I’ve been watching a few lines form high on the walls above the river. After showing Steve and Hunter these lines, we decided to give one of the lines a go!

On Sunday, January 7, 2018; Steve Janes, Hunter Lee

and I, established a new and exciting mixed alpine style route up the Bridge River Valley called “Bitcoin Billionaire, M6, WI4, 325m”. The route was completed in 7 Pitches, approximately 43.5 km from the highway from Lillooet or 6.5 km below Terzaghi Dam. The route lies between the already established routes Salmon Stakes and A New Leash on Life” along the highway on the east side of the river. From the road you can only see the final pitch of beautiful fat blue grade 4 ice. Cross the river and gain approximately 250 of elevation to the base of the climb.

The route is a approximately 550-600m elevation of gain, from the base of the river to the top of the climb, the route itself is approximately 325m. Steve Janes says one of the best lines he’s ever climbed.

Bitcoin Billionaire M6, WI 4, 325m

Pitch 1 55m WI 4: Climb a small hanging pillar to thin ice for approxmently 25m WI4, the pitch than eases up to grade 2-3 and snow to a large ledge with tree belay.

Pitch 2: 55m M6: Climb grade 2-3 and snow 25m to gain the ledge. Traverse into an awkward and fun squeeze chimney with questionable pro, requiring making multiple crux moves involving lots of stemming, groveling, facing both directions, and knifeblades (M6, 25m). Traverse right 5m to and belay off large tree on lookers right.

Pitch 3: 65m WI 2/ M3 / Snow Ramp: Climb the long snow ramp 45m, then climb awkward 2-3/M3 for 10m, climb the remaining snowslope 10m to large tree on lookers left. Belay from tree. 70m ropes are required or belayer may have to simo climb to 10m or to small tree on lookers left to establish another belay station.

Pitch 4: 35m WI 2/Snow Ramp: Round corner from belay station on easy grade 2 and snow. Make one awkward move over rock and ice bulge to base of squeeze chimney. Belay is located on lookers right in small crack, gear to 0.5 or pins.

Pitch 5: 55m M6: Enter the chimney and get busy! Stem up on thin ice and rock to overhanging chalkstone roof M6 (Solid cam under roof, right side #2 Yellow BD). Then find stick in low quality snow and ice at the lip and grunt through the roof. Once through the roof and chalk stone enjoy fun stemming and better ice M5 to upper cirque and final tiers. Belay off good ice screws below upper cirque.

Pitch 6: 20m WI 2: Easy climbing on good ice to base of final 40m tier. Belay off good ice screws on lookers right in small alcove.

Pitch 7: 40m WI 4: Fun climbing on grade 4 on fat blue ice to top of climb. Belay off good ice.

Decent: Rappel route, using trees, v-treads and slinging ice pillars.

 

The (partial) Slesse Traverse 5.7

Updated! from Cascade climbers 9-23-17:

Nick Elson and I (Julian Stoddart) completed this traverse on August 29th, with no knowledge of Wayne and Jen having been there the day before attempting the same thing (though we did see some signs of recent travel along the way that had us wondering).

We left the truck at 4:45 in the morning and traversed to the south ridge of Labour Day Horn as per Don Searl’s report from 2006. Kept the rope in the bag with a few moves of 5th here and there until the descent from Slesse’s Third Peak. Made a few raps down to the 3rd/South Peak notch, from near the plane wreckage site.

Ascending and Descending the South Peak was our crux. We were likely “off route” on ascent and ended up simul climbing some mid 5th on quite bad rock, In retrospect we’d have been better off staying closer to the crest where the rock was cleaner (we were slightly West).

A few raps from the south peak (again would have been better to stay right on the crest) brought us to the base of the main summit. A quick traverse had us on the regular descent route, which we climbed quickly to tag Slesse proper, passing Kevin McLane and partner who were descending from the NEB.

The usual crossover descent slog was straight-forward and we made it back to the truck before dark, after a very satisfying 15 hours on the move.”

_________________________
that from: Julian Stoddart

Me : Not sure if this effort is the first ascent? Who cares much anyways, Cheers to them!! So fast!!

 

Regular blog post from Jenn and my efforts, just days before their triumphant ascent:

Short version: Amazing lady helps old climber mans dream come true. We set off over a 3 day weekend to climb/traverse 5 of the 6 major peaks in the Slesse Range of Southern B.C Canada.

Itinerary version:

-August 26 Wayne W, and Jenn C. did approach, and climb Labor Day Buttress, aka, the NE Buttress of “Peak 6 (6,800+’)”300m, 5.4. Bivouac on summit. Ref: Beckey Casc. vol.3 pg, 177

-August 27 Rappel “Peak 6” ascend “Peak 5, aka Station D”, 180m 5.7. Rappel, then climb “Peak 4”, South Ridge , low 5th. Difficult rappels off “4”, then ascend “Peak 3”, aka “Southeast Peak 7,100” , 100m 5.7+. The site of the 1956 air disaster.

Difficult rappels off “3”, then bypass “Peak 2, aka South Peak” on the west face, then Climb SW Face Mt Slesse 200m, 5.6, Bivouac on Summit.

-August 28, Rappel Slesse, continue to Crossover descent back to car.

 

 

 

Amazing photo of the ridge we traveled…

Long Version:  I first saw it coming down from Nesakwatch spire weeks before, Why hadn’t someone done the Selesse Traverse?? I was to find out it was a rather brutal and long affair, complete with moss, loose rock and more black lichen than you can fit in your eyes. It was also a very fun and rewarding outing as you make your way across a spectacular ridge line that culminates in the mighty Mt Slesse itself.

I usually put more research into my projects. If I had, I would have found out that we were not the first to have a look at this… Don Searl tr, Slesse SE Divide-partial traverse. I also would have had an idea of the names of the different peaks. It would have been handy to have grabbed the correct beta pages my partner copied for our outing too. With all the makings of a fine epic, we left Seattle at 5am to make a 3 day run of it-> starting with the seldom visited Labor Day Buttress on Labor Day Horn( aka Peak 6). It felt like a 6 pitch 5.7. It went well in spite of the slipperiest heather I have ever been on. Jenn and I climbed the 1000′ route to the summit just as sun set. It was a most beautiful bivy as can be had in the Cascades. The next day’s goal was to get all the way across -the mile long ridgeline- over 5 more peaks (all involving rappels)-to the top of Slesse itself. It would not be an easy day

Peak 5 put up a good fight on the face just right of its south ridge (4p, 5.7). There was a particularly memorable hand crack. Several raps and a long hike to get over to peak 4. It was the least fun summit, and the way down the other side was terrifying. Think sketchy rapps on large loose blocks, chockstones and the like. Even with the first set of trauma raps behind us, the traverse gets more intense as you go.Peak 3 had difficult route finding and a summit that can hardly be touched. It quickly becomes obvious that this is where the airline crash took place. This awful site was eerie, especially when we were again struggling to find good anchors to head down on. On a memorable hanging station made of a single sling, I had to remove a toothpaste tube from the crack behind to rig that single sling.  No back-up, and I am not proud of that, though it was bomber. Walking and rapping by huge chunks of metal was one thing, but there were shoes underwear, seatbelts and other personal effects. I can tell you the airplane was yellow, and it was so close to clearing the saddle, that it blew debris over to the other side of the mountain.

We were very happy to make it to the saddle before the peak 2 Aka: South Peak of Slesse), but we were so very tired from the 2 long days and concerned for our committed position of having to get to the top of Slesse itself for retreat. It was after a long soul search that we elected to go around p2 for expediency as it would have taken many more hours to get up and down that one. As it was, we got to the top of Slesse an hour before dark. We relished our new camp and its relative safety on this incredible mountaintop.

All that was left to do was again rappel and down climb forever, then get over the long, long, long Crossover descent and get back to the truck the next day. Special thanks to Bree and Russ for the use of the truck, Jenn for being a trusting and loving soul, and Drew for setting the history straight.

So this amazing project appears to still be up for grabs. Will future aspirants overcome the dangers and difficulties in fine style? I sure hope so. I can’t wait to read the report!

Dairyland, S. Nesakwatch Spire 10d, 6p

Last weekend sent Lane, Doug, and I to the Canada to have a go at an obscure, yet outstanding climb high in the Cascade Range of British Columbia. It was Lanes idea to explore this area that none of us had been to prior, and what fun it was doing Dairyland in what started out to be soggy conditions. We spent 5 hours Saturday going up the 4k+’ vertical approach(ugh), and enjoyed the climb on a brisk Sunday. The climb starts off great, then has a blah pitch. Once that section is over, the crux, and last pitches are quite spectacular. You and your partner WILL be doing the rock, paper, scissors thing for the $ pitch! The whole package of being up in the mountains, good climbing and great friends embody the very reasons I pursue such a strenuous and risky sport. It’s great to be so excited about it even after 40+ years of climbing. It is however strange to run low on quality routes on my (local)to-do list, but fun to explore the unheralded and seldom visited routes!

Special thanks to Doug for providing the SUV for the drive that ended on a pretty rough road. Additional beta in Blake’s new book Cascade Rock.

http://www.stephabegg.com/home/tripreports/britishcolumbia/nesakwatch#climb2

https://muntanyaverda.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/south-nesakwatch-spire-dairyland-bc-5-11-7398/

click photos to enlarge or else they will stay small. forever.

 

 

Liberty Traverse + Skinny Start, Big Kangaroo

The 3 haggard climbers struggled back to the car, now separated, traumatized, and glad to have avoided a major epic. Stuck ropes, incomplete descent beta, and sustained climbing difficulties made for a long 2 days out at the Big Kangaroo.  The 4th of July weekend started out with the Liberty Traverse though, so let’s check back on the 3 exhausted dudes later.

First up, Jenn and I went after our second grade 5 route together: crossing all 5 summits of the Liberty Bell group, you can make it as hard as you want. We tried to begin with the North Face of Liberty Bell. Once recovered from an off route start, we found the Remsberg variation to be quite fun. Water grooves stepping at its finest. It was cool to be up there so late in the day after the crowds were gone. We had to get over Concord(N. Face Directisimo) before dark though to keep our pride intact, then find a lovely bivy between Concord and Lexington. What a great sunset, and view from there. I am sure the traverse is fine getting it done in a day, but…..

Sunset, then sunrise..

pure magic.

 

Lexington was a chossy blur first thing in the morning, and on to the real business of NW Corner of N. Early Winter Spire. Sustained and old school climbing at its best. We had fun behind a couple of young men just getting into this sort of thing. Their stoke was refreshing. We were also next to Jenn’s friends that were having fun on the West Face route too! We did punt a bit on S. Early, taking the easy way up it for lack of energy, not to mention hunger. One of the better traverses in the state.

The second half of the 4 day weekend was to be devoted to the Skinny Start of the Kearney/Thomas route.

James, Lane, and myself aimed to do the possible 2nd ascent of the 4 (not 3) pitch variation start.

We expected typical “alpine” rock climbing, but got closer to Index type climbing(hard!), with dirtier conditions. The trad gear/anchors went in well, making the insane climbing slightly more sane. It is tough to describe how heroic each lead was in its own unique way. Right from the start, it gets after you and builds in intensity right on through the crux and beyond! There is little respite once getting on the more established K/T route. I barely got the crux pitch clean, but James fell early following and jammed his rope into the thin crack in 2 different places!!! Lane had to climb past him and aid the whole pitch to free the stuck rope and get the frustrated James moving again. Surprisingly the maneuver only cost us a cam and 1 1/2 hrs. On to the next crazy pitch and our next surprise at the top of the route: We couldn’t find a rap anchor along the whole top of the suggested rap route: Becky-Tate. It became clear that we needed a back-up plan. I took charge scouting a direct descent to the car for my partners, and then got busy retrieving our overnight gear that we left at the base of the climb on the opposite side of the mountain. The entire descent had to be done in rock shoes for my friends, but at least I got back to my approach shoes at the base of the route. For me it was difficult but passable to stay high traversing to the saddle, this tactic seems to be the best option despite adding onto an already LONG day. The 60lb pack(s) made quick work of depleting my reserves, but burgers became that much closer with each step. We avoided a full blown epic through sheer will. What a weekend!

More info in Blake’s new book, but be careful with the beta, there are more pitches than described, and didnt find the rap anchors for going down the Beckey route.

Jason G, Liberty Traverse report

AAC Skinny Start FA

K/T report

Ian on K/T

Freedom Rider, Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell Group

When your to-do list at Washington Pass dwindles to the last few ticks in the book, Freedom Rider will offer an arresting and consuming adventure. Don’t take it lightly, it is a serious affair. At times the rock is loose, cat-littered, and vegetated. (apologies to the party below us!)I would say that over half of it is very fun climbing though. There are also some very memorable sections that surprise the climber too. The crux is a real head scratcher, I got to the highest part described on the 10d thin, and then just did a pendulum past the off-width to save time. I knew it was going to be a long day: up at 430 am and back to Seattle by midnight! We got pretty tired as it was our first big route of the rock season though. A very ambitious project considering that. Thanks to Jeremy for the amazing day!

The super topo and Blakes book are pretty accurate beta resources, here are a few others, and some pics:

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/freedom-rider/109496572

http://www.supertopo.com/rock-climbing/Washington-Pass-Liberty-Bell-Freedom-Rider

http://blakeclimbs.blogspot.com/2013/06/washington-pass-freedom.html

http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=595691

http://iannicholsonslife.blogspot.com/2011/10/freedom-rider-v-511b-or-510d-scary.html

Oregon Adventure Climbing

 

Oregon Adventure Climbing

Black Spider in topo.

Oregon Page
Welcome to my Oregon extreme climbing page. This  is where I learned to climb. I have a deep romance with the place as a result.
Oregon”Backwoods”climbing has a very distinct edge of adventure to it. Though it may be an acquired taste(and skillset), those who enjoy it can reap great rewards. Be careful here though , The rock isn’t always great.
Always carry extra gear to get down, and wear helmets.
           

Ice-Columbia River Gorge-the Black Dagger WI5+, FA

 Oregon and more Access Page 

Tim’s New Book!!: NW Oregon Rock Climbs 1st edition

Mt Hood Guidebook!!

tme

My Favorite Oregon Adventures:
Trout Creek
Turkey Monster    My report     Bens Red Bull Report
Rabbit Ears
Steins Pillar
St Peters Dome
Monkey Face
Beta: – Find The New I-rock Topo!
Portland
Rock
Beacon
Beacon Rock Stories
Abraxas- the Monument
Picnic Lunch Wall
Ice Climbing in the Gorge (When and if)
Mt. Hood: OPB Special
The Black Spider, it is a 1000’ East facing(!) wall, must be cold

The Pencil, n.face, Nt Hood

Arachnophobia direct, Black Spider

3 Monkeys, Black Spider
Illumination Rock-Some of the best mixed climbing on the west coast.

Rime Dog trip report

SW Ridge in summer.

SE Butt in summer

illumination-rock-12-023

Steele Cliff -mt Hood

Glacier Caving
Razor Blade Pinnacle
Lamberson Butte
Wolf Rock –Jeez!
Opal Rock, vast potential

TMGuides Cascade Classics
The North cirque of Thielsen is very beautiful!
Oregon Pinnacles Page
 Peters Dome bit:
It was June of 94, right in the middle of my divorce. I went on a series of near suicidal climbing trips to test my mortality. An avalanche ridden solo on Johannesburg, an 80 foot unbelayed fall off Wind mt. .Eventually a solo of St Peter’s dome was the only success on the trilogy of trauma. The Dome was a great climb. Finding the start and good anchors was a challenge. When I got to the start ledge I was greeted by a selection of railroad spikes . They came in handy for the belay and one of my first aid placement. Working my way up on bugaboos exclusively, I was convinced for a long time that I was off route. There were no pin scars  to be seen. I later realized that an entire layer of rock had worn off since the last ascent in the 70s. Watching the blocks shift as I pounded, I could see how this happened. After a short free finish to the crux pitch, I found the belay sings rotted off the bolts and sitting on the ledge with the rap ring still through it. The traverse was exposed yet easy . The final pitch was difficult to find and very loose, When the angle eased off it became a foot thick carpet of moss. I tunneled under it for holds until it could support my weight. The summit was exhilarating and a forest had grown there that wasn’t in the old time photos I had seen. The register was a fascinating history of  those who dared the venture. As time wore on, I copied all the entries and enjoyed this amazing and exclusive summit . The descent was uneventful until I heard voices in the forest across from me. It seemed Bud Young was leading a party on the Mystery Trail. What an unlikely party we had at the saddle. Truly a bright spot in a difficult part of my life.
Part of a Mazama Annual Journal.

Update On St.Peters Dome!!The Big SPD got its (approx,) 20th Ascent!! Here is the Trip Report on Cascade Climbers!

Dave Jensen Photo Of SPD

Right before Christmas in 2005 The Columbia River Gorge became windy and cold enough to freeze its many waterfalls. One of the unclimbed prizes was a route behind Ainsworth state park. It  had seen many strong attempts, including one where Bill Price and I reached within 30 feet of the top.
During the brief 05 cold spell I looked at the route through binoculars, only to see Marcus Donaldson about to finally be the first to succeed on the amazing route.
That left only one unclimbed route to do: The Black Dagger (photo).

Ice Dec. 2005 040
I rushed back to Portland to tell my friend Lane of our new plan. It included him buying new ropes , and us leaving at 4:00 am to try this extremely steep and exposed water course. As you can see the ice cicles do not reach the bottom of the cliff. In complete darkness I led up the loose rock and moss to the right . The way left evidence of previous attempts both to the right and straight on. A steep mixed traverse allowed me to reach the ice proper . With Lane and I committed now , we struggled up its overhangs and busted away the many smaller icicles that impeded progress. Most waterfall ice climbs are tucked away in corners or gullies. The Dagger is out on a prow, offering a steep and tremendously exposed position. 3 wild  pitches left us feeling like the climb had given us a tough go, but at the top we found the easy looking finish to be very tiring.
Reaching the top was so much more than a consolation for missing out on Ainsworth. We both agreed it was perhaps the best ice either of us had climbed. Our joy was cut short however on our last rappel down when one of Lane’s new ropes got stuck. Going with our new-found luck though , He got it back days later when the pillars melted away.
Lane confided when he took the picture from the freeway, that he may not have been willing to try this route if he had previously seen it!

Oregon has a surprising amount of adventure climbing, as well as sport climbing. It is conveniently located between other great states for climbing. Often overlooked as a result, it does make a great place to live and play. Enjoy Oregon !!

1

Wayne's site

Black Spider in topo. The Center Drip, Black Spider, Mt Hood

Oregon Page
Welcome to my Oregon extreme climbing page. This  is where I learned to climb. I have a deep romance with the place as a result.
Oregon”Backwoods”climbing has a very distinct edge of adventure to it. Though it may be an acquired taste(and skillset), those who enjoy it can reap great rewards. Be careful here though , The rock isn’t always great.
Always carry extra gear to get down, and wear helmets.
           

Ice-Columbia River Gorge-the Black Dagger WI5+, FA Black Dagger

 Oregon and more Access Page 

Tim’s New Book!!: NW Oregon Rock Climbs 1st edition

Mt Hood Guidebook!!

tme Monster and Rabbit Ears

My Favorite Oregon Adventures:
Trout Creek
Turkey Monster    My report
Rabbit Ears
Steins Pillar
St Peters Dome
Monkey Face
Beta: – Find The New I-rock Topo!
Portland
Rock
Beacon
Beacon Rock Stories
Abraxas- the Monument
Picnic Lunch Wall
Ice Climbing in the Gorge

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“Free ” Mojo, S. Early Winter Spire

In my never-ending quest to climb every long rock route at WA Pass, Free Mojo rose up the list for this recent mini-weekend. I dropped my tools at work Saturday 2pm, and rushed off to meet Doug at my place, soon to be camped out at my usual haunt. Immediate relief followed once getting settled  back into my favorite mountains for a few relaxing hours. Doug is always good company too.

Blakes 2013 fa at the bottom of his page:

mojo

From Blake’s page, Free Mojo on left.

Dawn always arrives though and soon we were headed up with the masses to the busy town on the West side of the Early Winter Spires. First up though, I dumped 2 liters of water inside of my pack.

We had confidence we would be the only party on this obscure route “put up” only a few years ago . The condition of the rock was an immediate issue with lichen and patches of kitty litter on the rock surfaces. We figure the route had maybe been climbed 5 or so times, perhaps less. Doug made good on the headey first pitch with only 1 take, and I barely got the tr-onsight of it with cold fingers.  I had not climbed in several weeks, but was stoked about my chances at cruising the next pitch. I danced through a tough intro, but came off just above the first roof for a 15 footer. I sure haven’t taken a fall in the “alpine” in a long time.  I figured out that sequence, but the rest of the pitch was quite difficult too, and had me grabbing gear a couple of times at the tough, thin finish. I kept the lead going all the way to the top of p3. It didn’t seem to offer a good anchor where the book suggests, belaying atop p2. I suggest bringing 2 full sets of brassies for the lead too. The rest of the climb is very fun: p4 is $$ for 5.9 fun. It then joins the SW Rib for social time. Key beta is the N. face now has a rap route to the packs(single 60m).

For the most part the rock quality is good, and if more people climb it, cleaner conditions will arise. I will also suggest being prepared for a very difficult climbing experience. Much more difficult than the West Face of N. Early for example. For me though, it is fun to climb routes that are over my head. That is where the ambitious climber should find themselves from time to time.

Some photos courtesy of Doug. click to enlarge

Update from my friend Jeremy 8-20-16:Got on this today and a couple of thoughts: great route with a ton of potential but man it needs more traffic and needs to be cleaned. I’m wondering if it’s OK to take a small hand saw and take out some of those smaller trees to prevent all the crap from filling back up the cracks (I did a little crack excavation today). Pitch 2 and 3 are easily linked with a 70m. (Wayne: I did it with a 60m)Just save a .5, a small cam, and few small nuts for the heady ten section right before the belay and a 1, .75 and small nuts for the belay

Sawtooth Traverse, Olympics 2004

I received an email asking about photos from the Sawtooth Traverse that David Parker and I did in 2004. The photos were no longer on the server so I thought I’d post them here with the trip reports that we did at the time. I don’t remember enough to caption the pics well, but I do remember it was a very fun trip.

from David:

Funny thing is, the whole thing is a blur. I don’t remember what cool pitch went with what pinnacle! I’ll be sharing the photos soon, so stand by.

Ok, here’s my brief TR: Sharpen the Saw

Last weekend, Wayne Wallace and I made the first ascent full traverse of the rugged Sawtooth Range in the Olympic Mountains. Well known for it relatively good rock (as far as volcanic goes), the ridge is comprised of 13 named peaks (some more like pinnacles) from Mt. Alpha to Mt. Lincoln. In all we figure we climbed about 20 doing our best to stay as close as possible to the ridge and climbing NE ridges or faces and rappeling SW ridges and faces, as that is the general direction of the Sawtooth Range. The most popular is the the highest and prominent Mt. Cruiser which graces the cover of the Olympic Mountains climbing guidebook and is generally the only and very worthy objective in the area. While we believe every summit had been touched, we are quite certain nobody has ever made the complete traverse in one single push. We approached 10 miles on a very wet Saturday and ended up at the base of Alpha with zero visibility. We bivied and hoped the skies would clear that night as forecast. Indeed they did, so we were up early and off. Alpha actually had 2 peaks, Cruiser was next, an un-named summit, some more ridge and then the Needle. After that came Castle Spires with 3 peaks. We ended the day by doing both the Fin and the Horn and then had to drop back down almost 1,000 feet to get water as there were no snow patches left to melt snow. We found a small pond and slept well in spite of relentless mosquitos and got back on the ridge where we left off early the next day. The second day (of climbing) was lower elevation and there was considerable vegetation (mostly pine trees) to get through in between pinnacles such as Cleaver, Slab Tower, Rectagon, Picture, Trylon and North Lincoln. We were then able to drop our packs and scramble over to the true summit of Lincoln and return where we finally dropped of the ridge around 2:00. The extremely steep chute of dirt was puckering, but mellowed to scree, then talus and boulders before we entered the forest to bushwack around a ridge and back to Flapjack Lakes. A few doses of slide alder and devils club reminded us we weren’t done yet and the 500 ft. descent in the forest to the lake was more of a controlled fall by hanging on to bushes and tree limbs until we almost splashed into the crystal clear water. A swim in the lake cooled and cleaned us for the 7.8 mile hike out to lukewarm beer and chips in the car. Fish and Chips and 6 Hood Canal oysters on the half shell fueled us for the drive home.

from me:

Sharpen the Saw

The Complete Traverse of the Sawtooth Ridge

Olympic National Park, Washington

Always on the lookout for new adventures, I found The Sawtooth Ridge to be a great possibility for an aesthetic traverse. I use the word “aesthetic” because I have found not all alpine ridges lend themselves well to a full crossing from end to end. Some have nasty deep clefts or shaky blocks or, like to Northern Pickets, they can be just too much. So when a natural and fun ridge comes along, its time to lose some shoe rubber! I found The Sawtooths when it came time to look for fun climbs on the side of the water I now call home. David Parker had told me had Cruiser in his sites. That led me to look into The Climbers Guide to the Olympics where I found Cruiser to be the crown of a very serrated ridge system. Having a rough year for climbing, David immediately caught fire on the project. It was fun doing the research on Cascade Climbers.com. We had no idea which was the better approach though into what the folks were calling the “Olympickets”. We did find it had the best rock and the sharpest summits in this wild range though. It was interesting to find the place also had a bad combination of steep –ass rock and sparse protection.
Heavy rain made us nervous as we drove off that Friday. Was the forecast going to magically turn things around for us so quickly? We needed to get part of the ridge behind us on Saturday to have a chance of getting done an to work on Monday. A stop at the last tavern before the park was to water down our apprehensions. The stupid rain was still there when we left the place though. David had the shady yet effective idea of finding some vacant cabin carport for a dry bivy. After working on our explanation to any arrivers,, we slept to the noise of the downpour.
Saturday morning, It was still overcast as we hiked the 10+ miles into Flapjack Lake. We gave up all chance of getting on the climb that day when it was very thick at 6 pm.. Serious concerns crept into our ambitious plans. It appeared we would need Monday if we wanted to finish. It was great to see it finally clear as we want to sleep at the base of our first objective: Alpha
With all the many peaks we went over David was later to say the whole trip was a blur. Alpha is one of those for me too except I do remember it was about getting to that big tree in the gully and barely 5th class to get over its 2 summits. Whatever it offered us was forgotten once we saw Mt. Cruiser .Its Northeast face was a great introduction to what fun lay ahead: Steep and exposed climbing with sporty and little pro. For the first time we saw the long road ahead that leads to Mt. Lincoln. It would not be easy or quick to get through.
After a satellite peak was crossed, we found David ready to get after The Needle. He thought it would be good to leave our packs at the base and scoot around the base after we come down. I had the feeling there was a nasty chimney to contend with on the other side. Sure enough we couldn’t even see down the crack on the other side it was so steep. 5.11 chimneys must be just grim. Above that notch lay one of the greatest leads on the trip. The first of 3 summits on Castle Spires led up vertical face to an almost overhung arête! We were so stoked to find such quality and charm to a peak we did not even expect to be on! The other 2 Summits fall into the blur category. The Fin Though is always a vivid and amazing memory. A crazy angled face problem led to a monster chimney. This made the adventure all the more complete.
Now running out of time and water. We saw the Horn was not going to let us up the straight line along the ridge direction we wanted to take so we compromised our pure ridge traverse here and went around to the standard route on its east face, which was no disappointment for any aspiring 4th class climber, really? 4th class? Our thirst drove us down to a pond at the base of the peaks where we made our second and last bivy under very bright stars.
Monday we went right back up and followed a sharp ridge line over 2 minor peaks that both had tin cans at their tops. After much of tough travel we found the Cleaver to be yet another fun lead and rappelled to the great Slab Tower. It had an obvious slab arête the I begged to give a try. It may have been one of several first ascents we did on these many pinnacles. The Rectagon and Picture Pinnacle were more leads that left us wondereding if any had tried its Northeast side as well. We really made an effort to stay with the ridge and its crest. The ridge was surprisingly accommodating too except for the Horn and now the Trylon too would need extensive rap-bolting to stay with the line direction. I am not sure the place is ready for that, but establishing this would make it an incredible Traverse that I would put near the top of the list for the country we share.
The North Lincoln Peak was a non-issue except for its intense and long descent. After we found its base, we ditched our packs and ran for the summit of our final peak. We enjoyed the view this time looking back to the distant Mt. Cruiser. What a long and fun climb it had been! What I had to do now was race back before my girlfriend called a rescue for us. I had mentioned it could take an extra day but was she listening at the time? The “trail “ down to the lakes may have existed but all we saw was the usual slide alder and devils club to round out the trip. The still cold brews would lessen the pain from that too as we happily reached our car again.

Sawtooth Ridge Traverse Grade V+-5.7 R (old school;)
August 7-9, 2004 Wayne Wallace (40), David Parker (44) .Both from Bainbridge Island.

Peaks include:
Alpha 1
Alpha Beta
Mt Cruiser
The Blob (Ok some of these we took the liberty to give our own names)
The Needle
Castle Peak 1
2
3
The Fin
The Horn
Tin Can 1
2
The Cleaver
Slab Tower
The Rectagon
Picture Pinnacle
Trylon
North Lincoln
Lincoln Peak

Gear : 2 ropes , med rack to 3”, several small pins, tat cord.

Another bout of Labor Pains

Ah early season. Stoke runs high, conditions are weird, and people forget to bring things. Plan “D”is often in play. Due to unfamiliarity and spectacular snow cover, it can be such  an amazing experience though, just good luck figuring what to do. Limited possibilities can crowd routes, but this Memorial Day, the weather kept many parties away. Monday was the only day it wasn’t snowing, so we made for the shorter West facing lines that got sun once it warmed up in the afternoon. We had picked Free Mojo, but the sun wouldn’t hit it before 1 pm. Labor Pains it was, even though Lane and I just had done the route last September. Would it be as fun as I remember?

I was rusty and the rock was damp, so I was not as relaxed as last time. The gear felt worse too in the damp cracks. I combined the last 2 crux pitches this time, and had the worst rope drag possible. Barely able to pull the crux and exhausted with drag of the 2 ropes, I still say that it is a great climb with a chip on its shoulder. I wish the pins could be replaced with bolts, and a good belay could be added to the last 2 pitches. It is dangerous to move off that belay there now with the way the bolts are. Don’t let my whining take it off your list though. Just bring long slings, Revolver carabiners, and some nerves.

click images to enlarge.

 

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“The Circumvention”, aka Fan-Wallace new mixed route

7-28-2016

Dear Alpine Mentors Community,

We regret that we have to report the tragic loss of one of our loved Alpine Mentors-AAC Pacific Northwest family members. At approximately 3:00 p.m. PT on Sunday, July 24, Laurel Fan (34) fell while ascending Serra 2 in the Waddington Range of British Columbia.

Our Alpine Mentors community is very small, and we are deeply saddened by this terrible tragedy. Our hearts are with Laurel’s friends and family.
We are grateful that the two surviving party members were able to draw upon their experience and competence to execute what was a difficult descent after losing one member of their team and a good part of the equipment that climber was carrying.

We are truly saddned and will keep Laurel in our hearts forever.

Yours,
Steve, Eva and the entire Alpine Mentors family

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1-10-16  Source Lake area, Alpental

There we were in thick fog, trying to find a thin, mixed route that had not been climbed before. We were lucky to find the start after wandering back and forth in the deep, and steep snow. I figured it would be a 2 pitch affair, so I asked Laurel to lead the first. (p1)She had a real treat going up the thin mixed corner on cams, pitons, and a screw. After 20 meters she stopped at an offwidth crack. I would recommend to future parties to finish the 1st pitch with the wide crack, so as not to (possibly lead fall, and) land on your belayer. There is a fixed pin there now just above where she belayed from and no wide gear is needed with the gear found in the chockstones deep in this classic section. (p2)After grunting up the short wide crack, I pushed the belay up to a place where one could watch the leader for the last pitch. Once again Laurel was game to swap leads, and get after the steep finish! (p3)Thin, rotten ice led around the detached ice candle. She opted to do an exciting mixed finish to the right rather than try to campus up the rotten candle. What an effort she paid, right up to the finish, where she came off before she could grab the M5+ tree limb at the very top! After regaining the overhanging block, she then pulled to the top of her first, first ascent.  Nice work, Laurel! The Alpine Mentors are proud of you.

   I had been eyeing this line during many prior visits to the Alpental Valley. We in Seattle are lucky to have fairly reliable ice venues so close to town. Its nice to be one hour away from such fun.

Specifics: “The Circumvention”, aka. Fan-Wallace is located above Source Lake area, on Bryant Buttress. To the right of Flow Reversal, and Resistance Is Futile, yet left of where people skin up to Chair Peak. Best approached from the Flow Reversal area, up and right, reaching a sweet thin gully with turf hooks and thin ice. When it gets steep, there could be an exciting direct finish to the pitch, or the obvious off-width crack to the left. We did it in 3 short pitches, but best to do it in 2. Move the belay high enough to see the leader either finish on the ice daggers, or the exciting “Fan” finish to the steep ramp up and  right. 2-60m ropes just reach the bottom in 1 rap.  Pins, stoppers,cams, screws and specters are all handy.

Other Snoqualmie Fun:

Snoqualmie mt. N. face part 1

Snoqualmie Ice part 2

Kurt Hicks Topo

Mt proj

Gallery, click to enlarge, some photos by Laurel.

 

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