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Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 2011 | TRs | Pics
Location: Grand Junction
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors
PostMon Sep 06, 2021 6:27 pm 
Kelly and I enjoyed a fantastic weekend on Chimney Rock last weekend in what was a smoke free endevour with 9 pitches of rock climbing. On Saturday morning we grabbed a quick breakfast in Seattle and were on our way to the Pete Lake TH and started hiking up the popular trail at 10am. The 4 miles to Pete Lake went quick, and we continued on the Lemah Meadow Trail to where it intersected the PCT. Turning north onto the PCT we hiked another half mile or so to the second switchback where it begins ascending over the pass to Waptus Lake. At this switchback, we left the trail and began heading northwest through open forest, descending slightly until we hit the North Fork of Lemah creek at 3380 feet. We crossed on a nice log and located the boot path heading up the steep slopes towards Chimney Rock. The trail was marked with a large cairn and the first couple hundred feet had flagging to mark where the trail goes.

There are a couple areas where it is hard to follow and we lost it at some point, having to traverse leftward through some heinous bushes about the 3700 foot level. I think we lost it at a spot where we traversed right to try and round the base of a lower cliff, when we should have went left. Once we were back on the trail, we continued up through a brushy section of vine maples, traversing leftward at the base of another large cliff. Overall, the trail trends leftward, and if you're ever in doubt, trend slightly left to stay on it. At about 4:30pm we arrived at the large bivy boulder that sits at 4800 feet and to our suprise there was already another party occupying the boulder. They were also planning to attempt the east face direct, and informed us they heard of a party who climbed the route the prior weekend and had no issue crossing the moat which was a concern (our backup plan was to just climb the normal improbable traverse route. We chatted with Jiri and his climbing partner for a few minutes, and continued up to the crest of the moraine hoping for another good spot to bivy higher up. We found a small sheltered hole in the moraine with some dirt at the bottom offering a soft mostly flat spot. This was at 5400 feet, right at the base of where the route continues more steeply up to the east side of the ridge guarding the glacier. I had to move quite a few rocks to make the sot large enough for two people but it worked our grerat with the only issue being the spot had no running water. Went to sleep early.

First view of Chimney Rock
First view of Chimney Rock
Crossing the stream
Crossing the stream
Ascending to the moraine on loose crap
Ascending to the moraine on loose crap
View from the moraine
View from the moraine

Jiri and his partner passed us as we were sleeping before 5am, and we started walking up about 7am after breaking camp and having breakfast. We hiked up the steeper slope to the ridge and more or less followed it westward hoping to avoid the elevation loss other parties typically take. There was one short but very exposed hand traverse we had to do to get past a gash with a deep notch along the ridge but otherwise staying near the ridge as you approach the east face wasn't bad. About 5950 feet as the ridge turns nore northward we began traversing horizontally across the NE facing slopes. The only feasible place to cross west and get onto the glacier this late in the season was at the saddle closest to Chimney Rock just below 6400 feet.

Once on the glacier we put our microspikes on and traversed west towards the base of the route. As we approached, I started looking for the first pitch, and a place to cross the gaping moat. We consulted our beta photo provided by Rob Busack on Peakbagger and located the first pitch. Amazingly, the only spot where the moat was crossable was right at the base of the route via a small snow bridge. We stashed a bunch of our extra gear (hiking poles, ice axes, spikes and stove) here and melted some water for the climb since we hadn't any running water since the previous day. I began climbing the first pitch which went up a nice crack in a right facing dihedral, with mainly 5.4 climbing with a couple 5.6 moves. Protection was great and I ran out the full ropelength. The 2nd pitch was pretty easy mostly 4th class and dumped us onto the large grassy slope (see my route topo I made below depicting the exact route we took).

Route topo
Route topo

Once we were on the large grassy ledge we continued scrambling class 2-3 terrain up the long left trending ramp that cuts up most of the lower face until we reached the end and climbed our 3rd pitch, which followed 5.4 blocks and face climbing near the crest of the ridge to another ledge. We walked right to the end of the second ledge and began climbing the main part of the route, which consisted of three 40-50 meter pitches of low 5th class terrain. The first 30 feet off the ledge I thought was the hardest part which I had to make a delicate rightward traverse without much pro. Then I climbed a flaring grass and dirt V shaped constriction which I was not a fan of. I realized when it was too late I was slightly left of the typical way people climb. I stepped right and got to the correct gully and belayed Kelly up. The following two pitches were much easier and dumped us onto the key ledge. Once on this ledge we walked left to where it wraps around the east buttress where we found a couple awesome bivy spots. Just before the ledge reached the east buttress though we located the final pitches which are shared with the Improbable Traverse normal route.

I led up the chimney pitch which did have a small overhang to climb over with less than inspiring loose blocks wedged in the chimney. Next pitch was a short romp up an unprotectable class 4 slab, then another short low 5th class slab pitch that took us on a ledge. These two pitches could have easily been combined. I walked right on this ledge to the base of a deep and big chimney which led to the summit, making a total of 10 pitches we did (should have been 9). As I was finishing this final pitch, Jiri and his partner were just about ready to start rapelling. We all agreed to work together to tag-team the rappells with both of our ropes, doing single rope rappels. The two of them went down first while Kelly and I took our summit break and enjoyed the views. Lemah and Overcoat were stunning just across the way and the skies were clear enough to even see Rainier. Mount Hinman and Daniel also were dominant to the northeast. Chikamin Peak was unfortunately mostly hidden behind Lemah, which I have a very personal connection to.

Sunrise on Chimney Rock
Sunrise on Chimney Rock
Our bivy
Our bivy
View towards Cle Elum Lake
View towards Cle Elum Lake
Approaching the glacier
Approaching the glacier
Chimney Rock East Face
Chimney Rock East Face
Traversing the ridge
Traversing the ridge
Bypassing some cliffs
Bypassing some cliffs
Starting up the upper glacier
Starting up the upper glacier
Ascending the snow
Ascending the snow
Nearing the base of the route
Nearing the base of the route
View down the glacier
View down the glacier
Looking up at the Finger of Fate
Looking up at the Finger of Fate
Looking up the east face
Looking up the east face
Chimney Rock South Peak
Chimney Rock South Peak
On the large ledge just below the leftward ramp
On the large ledge just below the leftward ramp
Finger of Fate (possibly unclimbed?)
Finger of Fate (possibly unclimbed?)
Ascending the long ramp
Ascending the long ramp
The chimney pitch above the key ledge
The chimney pitch above the key ledge
Kelly finishing the last pitch
Kelly finishing the last pitch
On the summit
On the summit
Summit views
Summit views
Rainier
Rainier

We then made a total of 13 rappels down with the 4 of us all working together to get them pounded out as fast as possible, since Kelly and I still had to hike all the way back to the trailhead that evening. At about 5pm we finished the last rappel and started hiking back down to our bivy. The hike out was uneventful and we reached the creek crossing and the PCT just as it got dark. We smashed the three beers I stashed in the creek and hiked the 7-8 miles of easy trail out, arriving at the trailhead about midnight.

Rappeling
Rappeling
Stuart Range
Stuart Range
Kelly rappeling
Kelly rappeling
Finally back to the glacier
Finally back to the glacier

Kelly also made this awesome video with a mix of photos I took and footage she took from her GoPro. Check it out!
Video

--------------
The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
SummitPost Profile
See my website at:
http://www.lemkeclimbs.com

rstoddard24, neek, Nancyann, ozzy, Eric Gilbertson, contour5, Pef, hapemask, Josh Lewis, Randito, RichP, Schroder
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Schroder
Member
Member


Joined: 26 Oct 2007
Posts: 6019 | TRs | Pics
Location: on the beach
Schroder
Member
PostMon Sep 06, 2021 6:30 pm 
That's awesome!

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Backpacker Joe
NWH Joe-Bob



Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 23712 | TRs | Pics
Location: Cle Elum
Backpacker Joe
NWH Joe-Bob
PostMon Sep 06, 2021 6:58 pm 
Great work there guys.  No ice in Iceberg.  LOL.  Thanks for posting.

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

— Abraham Lincoln
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 4260 | TRs | Pics
Location: Shoreline
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostMon Sep 06, 2021 7:32 pm 
That's a fun route.  Your photos make me glad I did it in early season, when snow covered up the loose crap on the approach.

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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Midnight Slogger
'Schwack Job



Joined: 04 Aug 2017
Posts: 92 | TRs | Pics
Location: Greater Cascadia
Midnight Slogger
'Schwack Job
PostThu Sep 09, 2021 7:45 pm 
Very cool to see a report for this route, well done. Did the Chimney Glacier have many open crevasses?

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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6936 | TRs | Pics
Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostFri Sep 10, 2021 9:47 pm 
Matt Lemke wrote:
Kelly also made this awesome video with a mix of photos I took and footage she took from her GoPro. Check it out!
Video

Kelly's video is great. At the end there is a climbing topo indicating an unsuccessful climb via this route in 2017. Was this a revenge hike for Kelly?

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Mid Fork Rocks • flickr
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Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 2011 | TRs | Pics
Location: Grand Junction
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors
PostSat Sep 11, 2021 8:59 pm 
puzzlr wrote:
Matt Lemke wrote:
Kelly also made this awesome video with a mix of photos I took and footage she took from her GoPro. Check it out!
Video

Kelly's video is great. At the end there is a climbing topo indicating an unsuccessful climb via this route in 2017. Was this a revenge hike for Kelly?

That was our beta for the day, posted by someone I wasn't familiar with to the peakbagger website.

--------------
The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
SummitPost Profile
See my website at:
http://www.lemkeclimbs.com
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