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Joined: 04 Jun 2019
Posts: 26 | TRs
Location: Richland, WA

PostSun Jul 14, 2019 3:08 pm 
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Ragged Ridge, 3 of 4 peaks, 07/12-13/2019
Stats: 22.5 Miles, 11,000' cumulative gain.
Trailhead: Easy Pass (SR20)
Summits: Mesahchie, Katsuk, Kimtah.

Resources Used, no particular order:
1) Eric Gilbertson:
2) GeoTom TR:
3) Lemke:
4) Klenke, Summit Post:

So, I didn't really feel like writing this. However, as I do much appreciate trip reports of lesser known or detailed areas, I must fulfill my civil duty of supplying a response to the ever-present ask of "Hey! What's the beta for XXX?"

You really want advice from THIS guy? Good luck.

Ragged Ridge. It's pretty rough. I'm sure many of us were awe-inspired by Eric Gilbertson's single day grab of all four T100's of Ragged Ridge and then Logan (and out!) the next day. Well, I kind of envy him for passing through the high traverse once instead of going (nearly) to the end and then doing it all again in reverse; well, in opposite, because ankles have to be brutally beaten equally on each side.

To my back approaching Easy Pass.
Over Easy Pass into the Fisher Creek Valley.

I set off from my car a bit after 0445 on Friday. I made it to Easy Pass at 0630 with a relatively leisurely pace. From there, I followed the trail to the first switch back and went straight, off trail. I traveled perhaps a hundred yards and ascended about 300 vertical feet (in a ever-so-slight traverse) to the 6,800' contour which I sustained for the majority of the traverse to the basin below Mesahchie. I maintained 6,700' +/- 100'. The notable exception is the waterfall crossing nearer the basin at 6,550'. I also loaded up on water here; a total of 6 liters in my pack since I wasn't sure of water conditions past that.

Easy waterfall crossing at ~6,550'.
View at the waterfall crossing...

There seem to be two camps with the traverse to Mesahchie/Katsuk: 1) 6,400/6,500 for most of the way and 2) 6,700/6,800. I can't speak for the lower but the upper wasn't too bad. Both have their pitfalls. The lower likely has more undulations in and out of gullies and less talus crossing (chutes getting funneled) while the upper likely has slightly less (serious) undulations and a bit more talus crossing (wider plumes that narrow down the mountain until fanning out WAY below either contour).

I never ran into any serious complications that 50 feet of ascending or descending didn't fix; those were few as well, perhaps 4 or 5 times. The terrain is rough, but not abhorrent. It's mainly tedious and mentally draining, unless you don't mind ruling am ankle. Thankfully I maintained ZERO debilitating ankle rolls/sprains on the entire weekend... An achievement for my loose-ankled self.

Basin below Mesahchie. I camped at the seemingly small knob, upper center right.
View looking up to Katsuk (Holyoke) and Mesahchie (Panther) Peaks. Cornice just ahead of me, filling easiest access to ridge.
Too Goode not to include.  wink.gif

The basin below Mesahchie still contained ample snow and running water. There was a large cornice filling the easiest route up to the 7,400' rib/knoll so I traversed the under/backside of the knoll. This involved some class 5 climbing that'd be tedious to reverse but I figured I could descend the typical way around the cornice if need be. I should've just gone the corniced way and skirted around it; the terrain there wasn't nearly as severe as it appeared below. I made the 7,400' bench at 1030 or so. I dropped my main pack and cobbled together my day pack for theong traverse to Kimtah and Cosho. Until this point I wasn't sure if I wanted to go for all 4, just Mesahchie and Katsuk, or do the closer two first and the farther two later (lugging my main pack all the way to between the two). I decided to try all 4.

I wish the traverse beyond Katsuk was this easy/flat... It undulates a LOT.

I set off for Cosho/Kimtah at 1045. I ascended relatively quickly to 7,600' and maintained until near the grotesque gendarmes. Here I followed details saying to ascend to a "Critical Red Ledge" around 7,800. I think I went too high, initially. However, I found the quite evident Ledge system about halfway through the perilous spires and flowed it with relative ease to the far side of Kimtah.

img][/img]View of Kimtah from atop one of the gendarmes. I had to down climb a bit to cross the gully between this and the next one.
The Gods have blessed me with a highway.
It's not entirely contiguous and straightforward; had to down climb a bit after this spot to reach the line that begins again.
In case you need shelter or want to bivy nearish the gullies leading up to Kimtah, there is shelter! I wish I had known that there were here. I likely would've lugged my pack to here and used this as a shelter for the night then returned to Mesahchie and Katsuk. ~7,800' elevation.

I passed what would be my turnoff up Kimtah on the way back around 1315. Not bad time, but pushing it for my comfort to have made Cosho and Kimtah and back before dark. I ventured on about 200 yards, looked at the map and sissied out of Cosho. The distance looked too far at my pace. In retrospect, I probably would've been fine, especially with the faster traversing of the Glacier, but something felt off and I forwent Cosho. Even the thought of the treacherous ascent and descent that I'd have to do via Fisher Creek directly below Cosho in the future didn't deter me. I should've done it, but I'm here to write about it some I didn't make a bad decision, I suppose. I turned back toward Kimtah and ascended a gilly to reach the summit about 1420. I descended a different gully and rejoined my route at 7,800'.

Kimtah summit, Cosho beyond.
Mesahchie/Katsuk from Kimtah (Gendarmes Peak).
Last one from Kimtah summit... *swoon*
What I descended from Kimtah. Not terribly loose for the most part, rough on shoe soles though.

NOTE: The various gendarmes are tedious and loose. That's the bad part. The good part is the practically ANY route will work through these (and up/down them). However, your elevation will largely determine the state of your tedious traverse. High: less undulations, again, but more likely to cliff out on one of the gendarmes, also seems to be a bit more solid rock. Low: more undulations, again, but more likely to not change elevation as much, also seems to be more loose rock/talus. Pick your poison.

I thought that maybe I could hit Mesahchie and Katsuk before dark. I hope to get back to the bench below them at 1730 to leave ample daylight hours, but I arrived late, around 1830 and went straight up for Mesahchie without returning to camp to resupply. I made the summit of Mesahchie at 1945 and was worried; I wouldn't have enough time to traverse to Katsuk and descend prior to dark setting in. I had a Headlamp but I didn't want to navigate this loose, steep terrain in the dark so I descended right to camp.

Mesahchie from the split of the route between the two peaks.

North Cascades, STAHP, you're too much.
Katsuk Glacier with lowering sun and clouds dancing.
Logan in lowering light.
Inspiration Ice Cap.
Nearly back to camp.
Can this be beat...?

Still, I got off course in the wrong gully and it slowed me down. I arrived at camp at 2130. I had seen the beautiful golden hour and sunset from up high, but missed the sun passing over the horizon. I was also preoccupied with descending so I didn't take many pictures of the stunning scenes. I ate and slept well, knowing I had to reascend and get Katsuk in the morning. I had a 17 hour day.

I awoke in a state of delerium...eyes crusted over, brain fog. I almost thought of leaving for Easy Pass right there. But I knew better. It was only a measly ~1,300' of vert to the Katsuk summit
And if I didn't do it know, I'd have to do ALL of the traverse over, and more, to grab both Katsuk and Cosho next time. So I happily chose to bag it now. I'm glad I did!

Morning mess.
Clouds in the valley as I hit the turnoff the Katsuk.
Final ascent line up to Katsuk. EZPZ.
Original First Ascent Roper register entry... Piece of history right here!
Because it's history, ya know?

It was a beautiful morning. Clam and cool, a layer of clouds in the valley below that slowly lifted to partially engulf my camp. Keep in mind, that there is a small downclimb and traverse to both Mesahchie and Katsuk from the split of the route. Not hard, just should be noted! I hit the summit at 0700 after leaving camp at 0600. I spent half an hour admiring the views and the ORIGINAL Roper summit register. I took a picture of each page, carefully turning them due to the poor state of the nearly 51 year old booklet. I was back at camp at 0820 and off for Easy Pass at 0850.

Fisher Creek from somewhere on the traverse back.

I generally reversed my route and only ran into one or two 50 vertical SNAFUs this time; an improvement! I made it to Easy Pass just minutes before 1200 and lurched down the trail. I stopped a few times to give my feet some respite and take the weight off of them; they were shot. I was VERY careful not to step incorrectly and roll my compromised ankles. That'd suck to injure myself on the home stretch wandering through comparatively easy terrain, especially in the forested section. I made it back to the car at 1320.

Getting there, the pass was within sight!! I tried to not think about the time and just chug along, one deliberate step after the other.
A blessed sight... Less than 100 yards to the car.

I crossed paths with two Ragged Ridge parties: 1) A group of three out for a day trip (I learned later) gained the 7,400' ridge as I was packing to leave and 2) a couplet I passed only 100 yards away fr the Easy Pass Trail (they were just starting the fun traverse). I told them I would pray for their ankles.

Here's a yummy toe blister that burst and I didn't even realize it until after my shoes and socks were off. No pain!  dizzy.gif

With the past two weeks being quite strenuous (Goode/Storm King, then 3/4 of Ragged Ridge), I'm looking forward to what's probable to be 4 single-day trips (ideally 5 more summits) over the next 2 weekends (I have 3 day weekends, thankfully).

Overall, it was a GREAT trip. The views afforded are out of this world the entire time! In retrospect, I would've gone all the way to Cosho... It would've about equaled the time I spent going up Mesahchie twice and gotten two peaks each day, making arrival to the car closer to 4 or 5 pm the second day. Lessons learned and I'm appreciative and grateful for making it out in one piece (as I always am for a safe return).
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Joined: 03 Apr 2016
Posts: 880 | TRs


PostSun Jul 14, 2019 5:10 pm 
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The group of three you saw from your camp at ~7400 ft was myself, Gimpilator, and chadlerhaberlack.  You'll see my report eventually.  We totally didn't see you at all, must have had your mountain ninja magic working that morning!  Great trip! I did that traverse over to Kimtah several years ago and man was that a rugged traverse physically and mentally.  Nice work getting those peaks.  It truly is a ragged ridge!
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Joined: 08 Jul 2019
Posts: 23 | TRs
Location: Seattle

PostThu Sep 05, 2019 8:43 pm 
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Nice work! And thx for the detailed TR. Hoping to get out to RR next season. Piggies lookin good!

Choss is a girl's best friend
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