Party: Mountaineers - Intermediate Ice Climb. Leader Fred DeHaven, Assistance Leader Jeremy Wilson, Climbers: Steve Yang, Al Nejmeh and I.
Weather: Awesome. After a basically cool weather summer, it looked like this weekend was the best of the season. No chance of rain anywhere. A solid high pressure system settled in. Cant beat it.
After having tentative plans to go to the Tetons this week fall through, I made back-up plans with other friends to climb Cathedral peak near the WA-BC border. On Wednesday these plans fell through as well leaving me high and dry. Next tragedy struck when on Thursday, my companies e-mail servers crashed and were down all day and into Friday. With no E-mail, as my primary communication tool and weekend planner, I was in a desperate state by Friday afternoon. Looking at a great weekend of weather and buy in from Tracy to do a significant, up to 4 day trip, the moment my e-mail returned, I was onto it. Within a couple hours, I heard back from Jeremy that there was a possibility that they have room on their Chiwawa climb. Yes, only a possibility. There was a climber on the wait list that would take priority over me if they responded to Jeremy's voice mail. Friday night I spoke with Jeremy who was on the phone with Dane, the wait listed climber: a fifth year intermediate student, with one required Ice climb left... I had no chance! What kind of person, with his course graduation requirement handed to him on a platter, on a beautiful weekend, would pass it up. I had to wait, pacing back and forth at home, for a half hour to hear the decision... He wasn't going!!??!?! No bite. Its mine, the weekend salvaged.
Next problem... not expecting to line up an ice climb this weekend, I had lent out all my Ice screws to friends taking the ice climbing field trip this weekend! Doh! It turned out not to be a problem, as the climbing team had enough to go around. Whew.
Upon reaching camp, we dropped our packs and backtracked to a traversing trail northward toward Lyman lakes. Expecting a clear view of our route on Sunday. The view was a little intimidating to say the least. Though the glacial ice climb portion looked reasonably low angle, the snow slope to the base of the ice fall looked quite steep and exposed, with a potential exposed traverse over rock outcroppings and cliffs. Above the Icy glacier, it was not immediately clear which mound of rock was the true summit. And therefore, the final steps of the climb were unclear after our reconnaissance. This did not even become really apparent on the summit day until we reached the top.
While our bivy location was cool and shady when we dropped our packs,
we were fortunate to have the sun move around and give us a nice warm evening
to relax, eat and drink. There is room for at least 5 bivys, though tent
space would be difficult.
The final pitch was a short section that we belayed Al on, after a while we broke into simulclimbing with only a couple pieces placed. This got us to the top of the ice fall to a gradual flattening surface where Steve and Jeremy were waiting for us. We took a break here for food and water before continuing with the final long, steep snow slope. Traversing around a couple large crevasses, this slope continues straight up to a saddle. At the saddle, a steeper slope continues left to another saddle on the left side of a craggy nunatuk. This nunatuk looks unimpressive from below, and is hard to believe that it is the "summit" as the adjacent rock lobes appear higher from below. In fact it is the summit, or at least the lower portion of the rock scramble which rises behind it. When we got to the rocks, we offed the ropes and crampons and scrambled up and back south for about 15 minutes to a double summit. The west summit held the summit register.
Jeremy and Steve got to the summit around 9:05AM, with my team of 3 getting there about 15 minutes later. We hung out at the summit for close to half an hour, taking in the amazingly expansive view. The only peaks we could not see were those immediately hidden by Glacier peak to our west. From South to North we could see Adams, Rainier, Stuart, Clark, Glacier, Three Fingers, Whitehorse, Dome, Forbidden, Eldorado, Logan, Goode, Baker, Shuksan, and several others East and West for which I have not spent enough time studying the region to know well.
As for the summit register, I reluctantly signed my first register of
the season. It being only the second register found as yet. I boycotted
my Adams summit register signing in the belief that Since I hadn't signed
any yet this season, why start now. But really, it was probably due to
the ferocious wind that kept me from signing it. Here on Chiwawa, given
the significance of it being my first ice climb and that the entire team
had signed, I submitted. (Really, its not a big deal, I was just toying
with the idea of boycotts).
The walk out was uneventful.... except for Al almost getting kicked by a group of horses blocking the trail.
Ok, it was eventful, and worth a little rant. Let see. Hikers and horse riders pay the same trail park fee right, yet these two horse owners required 4 horses to access the area. Two to ride and two others to pack their gear. The only heavy treaded scuff marks I noticed on the trail, braking up the soil to enhance erosion were hoof marks. What happened to "tread lightly"?. Not to mention the frequent piles of fresh, steamy, green, cack. I suppose they have an argument for why this is not an environmental issue, so be it, but it is definitely more offensive than a polite mountain bike rider. Speaking of trail etiquette... why is it acceptable for a hiker to almost be kicked off the trail by a horse? The two of us following Al had to skirt up the hill side, off trail to avoid the steaming, rearing brute. No apology from the horse owners, in fact just a "Thank you"... Thank us"??? What the hell for, not forcing them to have a little trail etiquette? Why park your horses in the middle of the trail. Clearly the trail was in frequent use by many backpackers and hikers. They should have had their horses tied to trees off to the side of the trail! Can you see me leaning toward my feelings on fair pay for play?
Now that was fun wasn't it???