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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mount Vayu (BC) - Northwest Ridge, August 2011



(Report by Tony Tsuboi - his full report here)

Mount Vayu is a prominent 9100’ peak located 40 miles north of Pemberton BC. Its position, deep in the Coast Mountains, offers a fun ridge climb with spectacular views all around. The rock climbing itself is mostly exposed scrambling with a few Class 5 moves and a short rappel off a gendarme to maintain the ridge. The crux is the approach, a cross country bushwhack with few signs of foot traffic. The TR’s we did find mentioned ample flagging, but aside from the first and only sighting, we didn’t come across any more. We took the high route in and the low route out.

The drive is long, 2.5 hours from Pemberton on mostly decent dirt road – washboard with pot holes, but none too bad. Driving directions can be found in the McLane Guide, Alpine Select. While it mentions that a high clearance 4WD vehicle is required, a 2WD beater car would do. The final spur off Jamie Creek Road is overgrown with alder in places. You won’t want to take a shiny new car up that. We parked about 2 miles short of the described start and hiked in from there. On the way, we crossed two bridges and a lot of bear scat. There is a third bridge, but the route forks up to the right just before it. You can continue straight into clear cut where the road will peter out and follow the north bank of the river (i.e. the low route.) However, we saw a shag of flagging above us that directed us up the high route. We followed that up, trending leftwards, and leveled out on a side hilling traverse at roughly 5700’. That wasn’t particularly pleasant, and we were likely higher than we needed to be. Eventually we sighted the ridgeline and Peak 7651 that we would skirt around to get to the outlet creek that drains the Pancake Glacier.

We rounded an obvious ridge and dropped into the outlet creek drainage. At that point we could see a steep wall of talus off to the left that would lead up to the Pancake Glacier. We crossed the creek and picked our way thru dense brush to a flat area that opened up. While it was obvious this was camp, and a goddamn fine one at that, heather was abundant with few if any signs of foot trampling. Aside from a pair of heli ski markers, this place was near virgin. Car to camp took us five hours. We settled in for dinner, a few medicinal drinks and an incredible show of alpenglow to stars.

We woke leisurely after sunrise and got a start up the talus about 8:00. The Pancake Glacier is appropriately named and fills the entire upper basin. The NW Ridge extends around to the right with a prominent gendarme at its lowest point before rising back up. McLane indicates the route begins to the left of that gendarme, but we picked our way up a lower angle line to the right of it. Getting around that gendarme was a little loose and dicey in places, but the remainder of the NW ridge is mostly sound granite. To me, it had similar flavor to the East Ridge Direct of Forbidden, but not nearly as technical. I think there was one move that would rate 5.4, the rest was mostly Class 3-4 but exposed. We summited at noon and took a long break to soak in the panoramic views of ice fields and dramatic peaks all around us. The descent along the East Ridge was easy and non-eventful. We dropped back onto the Pancake Glacier and made it back to camp in little over an hour.

Our exit route started the same, but this time we didn’t hesitate to drop elevation in order to skirt obstacles. That said, we still had our share of slide alder and heinous brush to deal with. At times, that ranged up to BW4, but we were rewarded with lower angle terrain and a few open meadows that were bursting with wildflowers. In hindsight, we should have come this way. We made it back to the car by 6:00, about 5 hours from the time we left the summit. Three hours later we were dining on bitchin burgers at the Pony in Pemberton. That place kicks ass!

This one's not for everyone, but I’d give it a thumbs up.





Friday, October 21, 2011

Johannesburg Mountain - NE Buttress, August 2011



(Introduction by Tom Sjolseth - his report here)

Johannesburg Mountain. Its N Face is one of the most striking facades in the North Cascades. A twenty-minute hike gets you to its base, but from there, the summit is a world away. In the 4600' of relief from the Cascade Pass parking area to the summit, this mountain has a bit of everything alpine - dramatic waterfalls, vertical brush, towering walls of rock, and eroding glaciers crumbling and falling to the valley below. Along with the sights, the sounds of Johannesburg are equally impressive. Rarely does a day go by where one cannot hear the mountain rumbling.

The last time I climbed Johannesburg, I told myself that I wouldn't be back for a while.. that there were other, new places for me to go visit and enjoy. But for someone who lives and breathes the challenge of the North Cascades, I silently waited for another opportunity to arise to climb this iconic symbol of our great range. When Wayne told me he was interested in climbing it after four prior, failed attempts, my ears perked up. I knew that Sergio was also interested, so I asked him to come along. Eliciting an emphatic "sure" from Sergio, we were now a team of three.

more....

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mount Chaval - West Face, August 2011



Increasingly on the lookout for unexplored (by me) day hikes/scrambles with reasonably good access, my ears perked up when Paul Klenke pointed out Mount Chaval while driving hwy 530 north of Darrington earlier this summer. “You can day-climb that” he said, referring to an unmistakable pinnacle of rock rising up above the timbered foreground ridges just east of the Sauk River Valley. Up ‘till then I gave Chaval little more than a passing nod en route to bigger objectives in the North Cascades and beyond. The time had finally come to stop ignoring this enigmatic alpine culmination of the group of peaks south of the Illabot Creek Drainage.

With the car parked just past the bridge over Illabot Creek, Tom Sjolseth (who’s words I have blatantly plagiarized in this post) and I dove into thick brush just on the opposite (climber's right) side of the creek. It wasn’t long before we reached open timber with understory and steep duff. We climbed straight up to ~3600' before making an oblique traverse to 4100', crossing some minor, brushy gullies (Devil's Club, Vine Maple). From here, we ascended straight up again to about 4600', where we intersected a large ramp that took us up to the col above Jug Lake. Some steep-ish traversing on a combination of brush, slabs and snow took us to the south of Pt 6356. From here, it's easy snow slopes and class 3 rock and heather to the summit which we reached about 5.5 hours after leaving the car. We spent ~40 minutes on the summit enjoying the views, before heading back down the way we came.

On the way back, we followed timber instead of the brush near the road (a route is flagged here), and that put us about 1/4 mile down the road from the bridge, but saved us 300 vertical feet of schwacking. All things considered, with the excellent shape the Illabot Creek Road is in and how direct our cross-country route turned out to be, I’d give this pleasant day trip two thumbs up!





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