The tape starts…
“Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to climb the Improbable Traverse route on the west face of Guye Peak. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds…”
But that’s messed up, it’s the middle of winter. Why would anyone want to try and sketch their way up all that loose rock and then across a slab when it might be covered in snow?
“Well, it’s mission improbable, Dr. Miller – not mission difficult.”
Which is why Chris and I found ourselves gearing up at a turnout below Guye Peak at 7am on Sunday morning.
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So Mark Bunker and I decided to have a go at The Pineapple Express (Cauthorn-Strong 2005, IV M6 5.8 WI3+) on the north face of Snoqualmie Mountain on Sunday. As far as I know this route has seen few if any repeats so we were at the mercy of the Dan Cauthorn’s write up in the NWMJ:
We … traversed beneath the New York Gully area to the lowest toe of the rock buttress. The first pitch started just left of the lowest point of rock and climbed a thin slab of ice hidden in a long right-facing corner (WI3+ R). After this pitch we trended up and left, pulling steep heather into a mixed gully leading to a tree belay beneath a rock headwall. The superb third pitch climbed the steep right-facing corner to a tree belay (M6 with good gear). Pitch 4 led up and right into snow and trees. The next pitch squeezed through the trees and traversed right to a 5.8 rock step that led up to a tree belay. We then continued up easy mixed ground to a flat ledge beneath the huge headwall that guards the top to the Northwest Face. We then traversed easily along a spectacular ledge system rightward to join the last two pitches of New York Gully. In total, we did nine long 60-meter pitches.
For me the first crux was getting out of bed and on the road before 5am but eventually I met Mark in North Bend. Note to self; partying the night before an alpine start looses its appeal sometime past your 30th birthday.
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I found a few spare minutes at the end of a busy weekend to get some pictures of the Cosley-Houston route on Colfax Peak on to the Web. On the right you can see my partner for the trip, Bill, on one of the upper pitches.
I also put up some photos of an (almost) one day ascent of the Torment-Forbidden traverse with Jason earlier in the summer. Why "almost" well while we did get off the route we didn’t quite make it down to the car. Be especially suspicious of partners with large packs, within my lurk bivvi gear and along with it a strange enthusiasm to spend the night out.
My pictures from the Bugaboos are now online in the picture gallery.
There isn’t a full write up yet but the short story is…
Simeon and I drove to Roger’s pass and had bad weather for an attempt on Mount Sir Donald. Went and had a look at getting into the north end of the Selkirks but were defeated by a very closed logging road.
Carried on driving, driving, driving to Golden for lunch and then into the Bugaboos where we climbed; the Kain route on Bugaboo Spire and the West ridge of Pigeon Spire to warm up. Then after a weather enforced rest day, during which we hiked out to the car for beer, we managed the NE Buttress on Bugaboo and the Kraus-McCarthy route on Snowpatch. We also climbed a route on the Crescent Towers on our rest day.
The weather looked like it was going to break so we spent the last couple of days in Penticton doing a little bit of cragging on the Skaha Bluffs. It was very hot but we managed to stick to the shade and get a few nice routes done before heading back home.
Ended up road tripping the Selkirks, Bugaboos and Skaha in two weeks.
Photos will be up later this week…
More updates to the Peru gallery. I’ve added pictures of our climb of Pisco Oeste and a somewhat less successful visit to the Ishinca area. That’s pretty much all the pictures online now.
Over the winter I might try and get some of my slides from trips to Bolivia and Ecuador back in the 90s scanned. One of the interesting things about this trip was seeing how much South America has changed in the last decade.
I’ve uploaded the first of my pictures from Peru and created a gallery for South America. This is the first installment, mainly Huaraz and some of the hiking trips we did around the city. I’ll be adding the rest within the week.
So my Peru trip is over as far as climbing is concerned. I leave for Lima tomorrow.
Not that it was a totally bad gig. Sure, bad weather, and illness marred the second half of the trip but Huaraz was entertaining and I saw some of the sites of interest even if the climbing didn´t happen as planned. Good scouting for another trip maybe?
Next time I would…
- Come a bit earlier. The weather usually bags in mid-August but this year it seemed to deteriorate around mid-July.
- Expect to be sick. Plan for a week of being ill. The altitude, odd food and water, pollution and other stuff will hit you really hard. Almost everyone we met in Huaraz had been ill at least once since arriving.
- Take it easy. On a month long trip the urge is to push hard and start climbing right away is really big – bad idea.
- Bring less ¨stuff¨. Climbing here tends to be short trips from Huaraz to a valley to climb from a basecamp below the snowline, probably only attempting one or two routes per trip. Lots of the junk you might bring for a trip involving a couple of weeks at a basecamp just isn´t needed.
- Bring less food. Most climbing type food can be bought locally. The exceptions being good dehydrated main meals and good bars, soup and Mars bars are available but not AlpineAire meals or PowerBars etc. You can also buy a lot of common climbing items in Huaraz if you need to, so no need to bring spares. Cheap simple snowstakes can also be had very cheaply.
So I´ll spare you the details but the lack of posts over the last couple of days has been largely related to further weight loss attempts. This was largely unintentional and not my competitive streak going into overdrive (¨I can get sicker and loose more weight than you¨). Suffice to say even in Peru computers and toilets aren´t sufficiently co–located to make blogging possible.
Today is actually the first day I´ve felt even remotely well in about the last two weeks. I´m not climbing fit but at least travelling isn´t going to be a Herculian task. I´ll be in Lima tomorrow night and back home by Tuesday unless the airlines foul up or the Peruvian teachers go on strike again.
Each trip I managed to end up getting forced, blackmailed or otherwise tricked into reading something truely terrible. Usually its a panic buy before a long flight or the only English language book in an otherwise empy alpine hut. Previous winners of this prestigious title have included such notables as Dean Kootz, John Grisham and Ayn Rand.
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