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Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Pasayten peaks:  Hey, stop and smell the flowers!
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Roald
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Post Mon Sep 17, 2007 2:01 pm    Pasayten peaks:  Hey, stop and smell the flowers!
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“We need more … partner bashing on these here boards.”
– Magellan, August 16, 2007

As a newcomer to nwhikers.com, I should follow the advice of a veteran like Magellan, especially one whose moniker (“Brutally Handsome”) has my wife salivating to meet him.

So in that spirit, for purposes of this report let me call my climbing partner “The Gimp.”  I have known Josh, er, I mean The Gimp, since he was seven years old and trying to avoid peeing the bed on a hair-raising boating adventure in Prince William Sound (pre-oil).  I’ll let you guess whether he succeeded, but since then Josh has grown up to surpass me in most everything:  height, looks, intelligence, you name it.  On a short 3-day trip to the Pasayten wilderness, however, some bad luck with his boots reduced Josh to The Gimp.


Things started out well enough, as we hiked from Slate Pass past Fred’s Lake to camp at Doris Lake.  (I love these names – they are the same as my parents' given names!)  We pushed into camp at 5:30 p.m., but there still was plenty of time to run up Osceola Peak for some amazing views.  According to the summit register, Lowell Skoog and a friend had bivied up there a couple of nights earlier.  I could see why.


We left camp the next morning at 9:00 am and walked east along Trail #474, then #484A, toward Shellrock Pass.  We turned south to head up Blackcap Mountain, following the route description in Summit Routes.  Cartman had warned us against gaining the ridge too soon, so we traversed some tedious talus along the east side of Blackcap’s northeast ridge (on the other side of the gap in the first picture below).  Then we gained the ridge and finished with a delightful scramble to the top.  We felt like the ridge ended too soon – it was that much fun.


At this point The Gimp restrained himself from throwing his pack off the top.  This is noteworthy because he has been known to do so.

***
True story:  Josh works for a well-known company that makes outdoor equipment.  A year ago when he and I headed out for a day climb, he brought along the prototype of a new backpacking stove the company was developing.

“You have to see it to believe it,” he promised me.  “It boils water faster than any other stove on the market.  And it is light, and windproof.”

For reasons that will become obvious, I cannot tell you what mountain we climbed that day.  Upon reaching the summit, Josh set his pack down and looked up to enjoy the view.  That is when tragedy struck.

“Oh crap,” Josh uttered.  I turned around to see Josh’s pack tumble slowly down a 20-foot pebbly slope.  The slope plunged straight down a magnificent cliff.

The moment called for immediate action to save the pack.  Either one of us could have leapt down that pebbly slope, but the risk of suffering the pack's fate was too great.  So we both watched helplessly as the pack rolled once, then twice, and then plunged into the abyss and out of sight.

For Josh, losing his pack was bad enough, along with his food and clothing.  But the first words out of his mouth were, “The stove!”

That’s right.  The stove went over the edge with the rest of the pack.  This was not just any stove, mind you.  This was THE PROTOTYPE of the stove that was supposed to revolutionize backcountry cooking.  “We put a lot into that prototype,” Josh lamented.  Every piece had to be specially fabricated.

Josh’s pack and the stove still are on that mountain below its summit cliff.  This autumn Josh is mounting an effort to go back and retrieve them.  You can see why I cannot say which mountain it is.  Someone is going to lower off the cliff and cap that stove.  Josh is determined that it is going to be him.

***

Josh began to morph into The Gimp on our descent from Blackcap.  His feet had taken a beating and he was ready to take it easy.  I still was interested in visiting Lago and Carru.

At this point the trip turned into the opposite of a smell-the-flowers thing.  If you want drop-your-jaw pictures and a healthy attitude toward hiking, I suggest stopping right here.  Instead, go to Quark’s most-amazing-in-the-world trip report here.

But for my slogfest story:  it was 2:20 pm and Josh and I were still on Blackcap.  Call it the Protestant work ethic, or linear thinking, or whatever – at this point I was all about the peaks.  So Josh and I switched packs, leaving me with the lighter one, and I took off.

Mentally, I worked out a plan by which I could get up Lago and Carru and return to camp before dark.  It went like this.

The Plan:
3:00 pm:  Get down from Blackcap and over to Shellrock Pass
4:00 pm:  Summit Lago from its SE ridge
5:00 pm:  Get to the base of Carru
6:00 pm:  Summit Carru
7:00 pm:  Get to the trail in the meadow below Shellrock Pass
8:00 pm:  Get to Lake Doris before dark

The results:
I reached Shellrock Pass at 2:54 pm.  So far, so good.

And then Lago’s SE ridge kicked my butt.  The elevation gain from Shellrock Pass to Lago’s summit is only about 1250 feet.  But the ridge required some up and down.  I passed the high points to the west, but more than once needed to skinny up to the ridge to get perspective and see where I was going.  From Blackcap, Lago’s broad ridge looks direct and easy, but as a small speck on that big ridge, I was awed by the towers, gullies, and sub-ridges along the way.  The gullies are illustrated in an exaggerated way by this close-up (I think it is of Carru, taken from ridge up Blackcap):


Increasing the sense of foreboding, clouds rolled in and a few drops of rain fell.  If it rained all that black lichen would turn to slickness, forcing a tedious retreat.  Then I realized that, in switching packs with Josh, I had forgotten to include my headlamp.  So there was not much room for error in executing The Plan.  Adding to the drama, at one point I started to pull myself up onto a large boulder that dislodged as I weighted it.  Instinctively I leaned into the boulder to push it back into place.  It worked this time, but I was shaken by how my instinct may not have served me well.  I should have simply jumped out of the way and let the boulder crash down.  The next time I hope to react better.

Eventually I reached the summit, but it was 4:20 pm.  I was behind The Plan.  So I dallied for only 10 minutes, noticed how few parties had signed the register this year, and took some pictures:


Then it was down Lago’s west ridge.  This is a more direct but less aesthetic route than the SE ridge.  Still, the west ridge has a lot of small scree that aids the descent.  Despite The Plan, I stopped and gawked at some beautiful and crazy rocks:


At 5:00 pm – back on The Plan – I traversed over to the route on Mt. Carru’s SE ridge at the 7100 foot level.  The route up Carru is more direct than for Lago, but I was starting to flag and it took me an hour to reach the summit at 8595 feet.  It was 6:02 pm – still on schedule – so I took 10-15 minutes to look around before heading down.


Coming down I took a series of scree-filled gullies that lie to the west of the normal route up Carru’s SE ridge.  Each seemed to offer easier traveling than traversing left toward the SE ridge.  Further down I avoided the brush and deadfall that lie toward the base of the mountain by moving left (east).  In many ways this was the most enjoyable part of the trip.  I have made many bad decisions in the backcountry and have paid the price in bushwhacking, reversing my steps, and general misery.  This time, however, it seemed that every decision – to follow a ridge, traverse right or left, shoot straight down some scree – turned out ok.  I popped out on the Trail #484A at the 6000 foot level – right where it crosses the stream.  My watch said 7:00 pm.

And then, with precision of the trains in Germany, I then rolled into camp at precisely 8:00 pm.  The Plan worked, this time, at least.

This is when the trip got really good.  A couple camping nearby, Jill and Ray, invited us to share wine and chocolate around their campfire.  Sweet!  We basked in their hospitality, swapped stories about hiking, music, and relationships, and went to bed late.  Thanks, Jill and Ray!

Very few parties have signed the summit registers on these mountains this year, probably due to the road closure until late August.  Nick and Linda, who signed the summit registers on Osceola, Carru, and Lago shortly before me, also were camped at Doris Lake.  On our way out we soaked up Nick’s knowledge of the mountains and stories of skiing and climbing with some of the climbing legends from the northwest.  It was great.

Overnight trips like this offer these kinds of opportunities for relaxing and storytelling.  Most of this summer I have focused on summitting two or three peaks in long day outings.  But with these shorter late-summer days, the allure of camping and taking it slower is growing.  Next year, instead of scrambling a bunch of peaks it might be fun to go sloooow.  Quark’s TR is inspiration.  But that takes a level of maturity that might still be beyond me.  rolleyes.gif
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pimaCanyon
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Post Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:46 pm    payaten
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What a great trip story!  Too bad about Josh's feet.  And stove.  Hope he recovers it.  THAT will make a great story, so have him write it up.  And when will we see the new stove in stores? Or at least on some website with cool specs and pix and all.

I was in that area many years ago.  Did the corkscrew route up Lago (described by Steve Barnett as a ski route to the summit.  I figured if you can ski it, walking it ought to be a piece of cake.  And it was).  Being in that huge amphitheater on the north side of Lago was really cool.  After summiting Lago I headed north along and beside the ridge to Dot Lake, then up and over Ptarmigan Peak and on to Tatoosh Buttes.  Enormous meadows in that area, I need to go back there...

Welcome to the site!

--------------
It's never too late to have a happy childhood
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Yet
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Post Mon Sep 17, 2007 10:01 pm   
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Roald wrote:
As a newcomer to nwhikers.com, I should follow the advice of a veteran like Magellan, especially one whose moniker (“Brutally Handsome”) has my wife salivating to meet him.

Just one paragraph into your TR and I already have to comment.

Your wife should be insanely jealous of me then, I got to give the Brutally Handsome Magellan a birthday hug. Not only he is brutally handsome, he is also a veritable gentleman.  agree.gif During TNAB's Avalanche Mtn hike, he let me follow behind him so he could take all the falls on the brushy, slippery "trail" so that I can avoid them.

Ok, back to reading the rest of your TR. smile.gif
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seawallrunner
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Post Mon Sep 17, 2007 10:20 pm   
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welcome newcomer Roald, and what a beautiful trip report. Your photography is beautiful, and your writing is suspenseful.

I look forward to learning more about the 'prototype' that was lost to the steep slopes. May you and your friend recover it, and may the prototype keep on ticking, despite the licking.
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Magellan
Brutally Handsome



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
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Post Mon Sep 17, 2007 10:24 pm   
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Quote:
“We need more … partner bashing on these here boards.”
– Magellan, August 16, 2007

As a newcomer to nwhikers.com, I should follow the advice of a veteran like Magellan, especially one whose moniker (“Brutally Handsome”) has my wife salivating to meet him.

Edit: Best TR start, ever!!

Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait just a doggone minute.  I laughed hard at this one, but don't know if I actually said it.  I like hearing about me, and even being quoted, but I looked at all my posts for that day and did not see this one.  I blather a lot, so I can't look at every day.  Can you put this link in context?  I mean, where is the  clown.gif ?

I assure you and your wife my avatar looks just like me on one of my off days.  Welcome to the site.  I am enjoying your TR very much.  Paysaten rockband.gif !!

Yet wrote:
During TNAB's Avalanche Mtn hike, he let me follow behind him so he could take all the falls on the brushy, slippery "trail" so that I can avoid them.

'Aaaauuughh! (Wham!)...Ok, don't step over here.'
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Roald
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Post Tue Sep 18, 2007 9:21 am   
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[quote="Magellan"]
Quote:


Edit: Best TR start, ever!!

Whoa, whoa, whoa,l wait just a doggone minute.  I laughed hard at this one, but don't know if I actually said it.  I like hearing about me, and even being quoted, but I looked at all my posts for that day and did not see this one.  I blather a lot, so I can't look at every day.  Can you put this link in context?  I mean, where is the  clown.gif ?

Magellan, you are so prolific, and funny, that you need someone to keep track of the pearls you toss out.  Your comment is here.  It was in response to my second TR on NWhikers, and it made Chrystell and me chuckle so much that it encouraged me to write another.  And another.  (So you may come to rue that comment.  doh.gif  )

We also took note of GeoTom's response:  "Note to self: Do not hike with Magellan if he plans to write up a trip report."  rotf.gif  Hey, maybe there is a lesson there, too.  huh.gif
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Roald
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Post Tue Sep 18, 2007 9:28 am   
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Yet wrote:
Roald wrote:
As a newcomer to nwhikers.com, I should follow the advice of a veteran like Magellan, especially one whose moniker (“Brutally Handsome”) has my wife salivating to meet him.

Just one paragraph into your TR and I already have to comment.

Your wife should be insanely jealous of me then, I got to give the Brutally Handsome Magellan a birthday hug. Not only he is brutally handsome, he is also a veritable gentleman.  agree.gif During TNAB's Avalanche Mtn hike, he let me follow behind him so he could take all the falls on the brushy, slippery "trail" so that I can avoid them. 

Yet, that does it.  I am not telling Chrystell of this thread.  Ever.  Magellan will be my ruin. bawl.gif
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wildernessed
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Post Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:18 am   
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up.gif Nice shots, Doris Lake looks sweet and like a fine basecamp. up.gif  up.gif
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cartman
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Post Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:51 am   
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That's moving to get those three peaks RT from Doris Lake in a day. There's also a good camping meadow on the N side of the drainage a little short of Shellrock Pass.

A note on Blackcap: as Roald said, don't gain the ridge too soon, since there is a gendarme in the way you have to bypass, but especially don't gain the ridge too late as upclimbing the black rock is truly awful. It's a shattered, almost obsidian-like rock that peels off in vertical columns. So unless you relish climbing up unprotectable 4th-class disintegrating choss, gain the ridge immediately after passing the gendarme. The ridge is enjoyable and easy.
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Roald
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Post Tue Sep 18, 2007 4:50 pm   
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Seawallrunner and vert up:  I asked if I could post more info about the stove, and should hear back soon (it seems they would leap at the chance for free publicity).  While I never used the prototype(!), I have used later models and it is a remarkable stove.  I think a lot of people are going to like it.

vert up:  The north sides of many of those Pasayten Peaks are really interesting - much more vertical.  I originally had hopes to traverse north from Lago to Dot and Ptarmigan, but work intervened with my plans.  Your route sounds terrific.

cartman:  We never did find the crappy black rock.  There is a lot of yellowish choss on the east side of the NE ridge, but nothing worse than the usual Cascade boulder pile.  The black rock on the upper ridge is, as you say, fun and easy.  Thanks again!
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Quark
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Post Tue Sep 18, 2007 6:20 pm   
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Roald wrote:
I stopped and gawked at some beautiful and crazy rocks

How does one know when a rock is a crazed rock?

A most excellent write-up.  My favorite parts were, and I quote:  "Quark," and and even better quote, "Quark."

To write a story like that takes organization and talent.

Wonderful pics  up.gif

--------------
"How much does a case of beer weigh?

Z, NWHikers' Backcountry Travel Consultant
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Tazz
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Post Tue Sep 18, 2007 11:47 pm   
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very good tr up.gif  thanks and welcome
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Magellan
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Post Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:03 am   
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Magellan wrote:
Supersweet!!  Funny trip report.  We need more humor in the form of partner bashing on these here boards.  hockeygrin.gif

Humor!  You left out the word humor!  Anyhoo, I sure like quoting myself.  GeoTom is correct after having read my addition to Bryan's Alta report, which was not quite as scathing as I would have liked.  I suppose I could blame my partner bashing in that TR on all the toxic fumes I was breathing.  bomber.gif
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snowflake
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Post Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:10 am   
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Roald wrote:
For Josh, losing his pack was bad enough, along with his food and clothing.  But the first words out of his mouth were, “The stove!”

That’s right.  The stove went over the edge with the rest of the pack.  This was not just any stove, mind you.  This was THE PROTOTYPE of the stove that was supposed to revolutionize backcountry cooking.  “We spent three trillion dollars building that prototype,” Josh lamented.  Every piece had to be specially fabricated.

Josh’s pack and the stove still are on that mountain below its summit cliff.  This autumn Josh is mounting an effort to go back and retrieve them.  You can see why I cannot say which mountain it is.  Someone is going to lower off the cliff and cap that stove.  Josh is determined that it is going to be him.

I'm sure The Gimp's employer won't miss that rotten old thing at this late point in the game. I had a strong reactor when you said something about "capping" because yes, the world is waiting. We want it, and we want it now.

I think you should just tell me where the pack is so I can go get it. I will store that stove under my cap, so to speak. wink.gif

PS. nice TR. Doris looks pretty scrumptious.
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acme
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Post Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:27 pm   
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Well, my old (just as an aside, whilst I was busy trying not to pee the bed, my beloved Pappy and the 20-something-year-old "Roald" here were in the boat's cabin, gobbling up the day's catch of Dungeness crab.  Some people, upon being caught red-handed in the morally dubious position of waiting until the kid was asleep to fire up the stove would make a rather feeble argument that it was "past someone's bedtime," which you would recognize as a bunch of crap if you've ever eaten fresh Dungeness crab and you know damn well that the kid in the next room loves crab more than his own parents.  This should not come as a surprising fact, considering one of them practically left me for dead because he was too busy eating all the crab) buddy "Roald" would have you believe that I could ostensibly surpass him in some kind of 3 day death march through the Washington backcountry.  I will represent to you that this is not so.  The good doctor may look like one of those wet-noodle professor-types, but you put a pack on his back and he starts to tug at the reins like a sled-dog in heat.  Seventy miles later, he’ll hardly stop to look back and notice he’s towing your dead body.

After day one, my toes hurt so bad from jamming into the ends of my boots that it was all I could do to setup the tent and quietly contemplate my miserable feet for three hours while Jon headed off to bag his first peak.  By the middle of day two, I was pretty sure I was losing one, if not both, of my toenails and possibly all the skin on my heels as well.  On our descent from Blackcap, a dog-sized chunk of talus rolled onto the big toe of my right foot, adding injury to insult.  Shortly thereafter I sat down to inspect the damage and discovered that the toenails on both big toes had turned a disturbing shade of purple, and I had in fact been greasing up the inside of my boots with some rather valuable patches of foot-skin.  Jon's first comment at the sight was, "I've lost toenails before and never seen them look that bad."  I'd like to say that I gritted my teeth and soldiered on throughout the day, but as you know, this did not happen.  Instead, I watch Jon cut an alarmingly fast path (I'm telling you the guy is like a gangly jackrabbit with glasses) across the talus while I delicately picked my way back toward camp 4 miles away.

Those 4 miles were nothing compared to the hike out on day three--a 12 mile trek starting with roughly 2000' of descent in the first 2.5 miles, which was sort of like having little elves hammer stakes into my toenails over and over.  I did manage to tape up the worst of the blisters, which helped, though when I got to the car and peeled the boots from my feet I was chagrined to find that blisters had formed where the edges of the tape met my skin.  Worst boots ever, you say?  I think just maybe yeah.

A couple of sobering closing comments:  First, I'd like to point out that I learned a few things from losing my previous pack.  In the photos you'll notice that I'm wearing Jon's fanny pack, not my own, thus insuring that should any tragedy befall us my pack is safely back at camp with all my extra clothes and food.  Second, if you haven't lost a pack before, it's an experience you will never forget.  The expletives that left my mouth on our descent from that trip would have made my mother cry.  It was months before the thought of how much gear I lost stopped making me feel sick.  Even now I go digging for some crucial item, only to realize that it's still out there, somewhere.  Then there's the seemingly tireless ribbing your friends will give you at parties, at work, on web forums, emails, you name it.  It's humiliating.  None of this, however, can outweigh the exhilarating buoyancy of hiking down from a gorgeous peak for miles on end with nothing on your back except your shirt.  I flew down that sucker, I'm telling you.  Next year, I'm thinking about throwing my boots off the top.

And one last serious note:  We do test prototypes in the field, and occasionally they get dropped, lost, forgotten, etc.  If you find one, it most likely has "PROTOTYPE.  PROPERTY OF _____." emblazoned on it somewhere.  It probably seems like a sweet deal to find such a thing, but please, PLEASE do not use these products--return them to the company of origin.  Prototypes are just that--they are designed to test specific features and performance issues, and they are intended for use solely by company representatives who understand the risks and limitations of each individual model.  I don't mean to suggest that any one of you couldn't get the product to work, but you're dealing with something that, to you, is full of unknown potential dangers.  Don't put yourself at risk.  When the product has been tested thoroughly and is ready for the public, we'll have it available for sale.

p.s.  Snowflake, you’re a sport, and you’re hilarious.   wink.gif

Regards,
The Gimp
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