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marek
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 11:52 am 
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Kuba and myself did The NF of Chair Peak this past Sunday, Feb 17th.
Despite North West Avalanche Center’s predictions for substantial avalanche potential, it turned out to be just perfect; crispy on the way in, and crust on the way out.  On my previous attempt on North Face, we (yesman, catbirdseed, Tony Tsuboi and Atsuko on CC) were forced to climb NE Buttress of Chair, due to crowding on North Face (3 teams).

2006 Chair Peak NE Buttress Ascent
2006 Chair Peak NE Buttress Ascent
2008 Chair Peak North Face Ascent
2008 Chair Peak North Face Ascent

This time I hooked up again with Kuba, my fellow Polish climber and hid the trail at 6:30am, then on to Source Lk at 7:15, and Thumb rock at 8am. We talked a bit with a pair of two climbers in ahead of us before they left. Basin looked quiet, and as we neared the ridge, winds started hauling.
Access Ridge
Access Ridge

From my previous attempt in 2006, it looks like there is less snow on the face. (See photos above)
DSC_0096.JPG
DSC_0096.JPG

We continued in the footsteps of “the others”, traversing below large snow cornice/bergshrund, (pitch one). Getting over the snow block, proved a bit trickier, as the team ahead of us scraped some ice and weakened snow; plainly, at this point everything was collapsing underneath my boots, and higher up, snow was too shallow to put in pickets.  But after some frantic search I found one place to bang in one solid picket, and then I traversed to the edge of a steep runnel with some nice ice in it (center of the face) (short pitch two).  As expected the ice was good, and I advanced over it, putting in couple of screws and climbing onto a long snow section, where there was crust and sugar underneath all way to the trees. I did managed to find one spot for ½ screw, but that was it!, No protection until the trees and our 60m rope  was not enough, so we finished with running belay.
Top of 3rd Pitch
Top of 3rd Pitch
DSC_0101.JPG
DSC_0101.JPG

While we were making slow progress, the team above, as they advanced, knocked down some substantial amount of junk, right at us, slowing our advance.(pitch three) From the trees, Kuba took over, and lead an S pitch fallowing whatever traction he could get. The snow was loose and ice was very thin, we then continued over narrow rocky ramp to the final ice bulge, and onto steep but easy snow until the notch below the summit.
“The Others” were already gone, giving up on the true summit, so we thought, why not finish it with style, and we summited at sunset.
Kuba on Top of Chair Pk.
Kuba on Top of Chair Pk.
DSC_0103.JPG
DSC_0103.JPG

Going down the south gully was easy, and we got to the rappel anchors at the last light, rappelling into the void of darkness.
In all, I think, we established two records:
1, First all Polish team to the top of Chair Peak in winter
2, The longest ascent of Chair Peak ever done!
Marek
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Bryan K
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 11:56 am 
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marek wrote:

Despite North West Avalanche Center’s predictions for substantial avalanche potential, it turned out to be just perfect

nice to see someone dissing the NWAC forecast shakehead.gif  shakehead.gif  glad I didn't hear about a SAR mission to the Chair Peak area.

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Yana
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 12:40 pm 
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Bryan - the NWAC forecast is a tool, and one's level of experience/confidence dictates how that tool is used. I don't see how marek's statement can be taken as "dissing," nor do I think it is fair for you to imply that what they did was stupid (in terms of avalanche danger) unless you were there personally and witnessed the snow conditions.


Thanks for posting an entertaining TR, marek! What is is with you Poles and winter ascents, anyway?  dizzy.gif

ETA: You may be correct about record #1, but I am fairly certain you are wrong about #2.

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marek
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 4:06 pm 
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Bryan, just like Yana mentioned; no one is dissing Northwest Avalanche Ctr. To the contrary, one should use them plus review satellite pics. In our case, my concerns were gone on the approach; you did not even need snowshoes. Avalanche Ctr usually gets their stuff right on, but in this case, they didn't.
Yana Poles and winter? Yes, it is becoming sort of a tradition; took me few years to get Rainier in the winter.
Marek

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gyngve
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 4:37 pm 
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Bryan wrote:

glad I didn't hear about a SAR mission to the Chair Peak area.

actually i think there were three overdue groups in the alpental/commonwealth valleys last night who triggered SAR calls, all standdowns.  there was also another party on Chair who got two ropes stuck on the raps.  dunno why they couldn't/didn't prusik/climb back up to retrieve them.
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Spotly
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 4:55 pm 
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gyngve wrote:
... there was also another party on Chair who got two ropes stuck on the raps.  dunno why they couldn't/didn't prusik/climb back up to retrieve them.

I was wondering about that one too. Sounds like the knot was stuck in the ice so they shoulda had both ends avaialable.
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gyngve
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 5:12 pm 
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several years ago i recall a party descending incorrectly in whiteout off of chair peak and spending all night postholing around the whole mountain.  the next day SAR airdropped snowshoes for them somewhere in the middle of Snow Lake.
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Bryan K
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 5:25 pm 
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Marek, I'm sorry if I offended you with my post, that was not my intention. I posted when I was upset about something and it came out in my post.

It's just that it has been a bummer lossing the people that we have this winter, especially when the info was out there for them to check with (ie NWAC forecasts)

You are clearly more experienced than I am in mountaineering and know how to better asess conditions than I do. I will keep my yap shut and enjoy the pictures that you've posted. Thanks.

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Layback
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 5:36 pm 
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Great pics Marek!  One of these days I hope to feel conditioned enough in winter to catch that climb at just the right time when weather and avy conditions come together to make the perfect day.  Nice job!
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Karen
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 5:45 pm 
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Notes from a "hiker" ...

Marek, I enjoyed reading your post and especially the photos.

My only concern about your successful climb is that some folks won't take avalanche conditions seriously enough and might not feel it's important to check the avalanche conditions before they head out. I do know that conditions are sometimes different than predicted but even so, way too many people are too cavalier about setting out into the mountains, especially this year.

That being said, congratulations on a wonderful ascent and stunning photos.

Karen

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Don
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 7:32 pm 
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Excellent post Marek!  Sounds like conditions were quite advantagous for you!   up.gif
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marek
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 9:09 pm 
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About the stuck ropes? Here is info from CascadeClimbers; someone got them today.
Oh, the embarrassment.

I had to leave two ropes at the Chair Peak rap station yesterday. I neglected to run the knot past the cornice, and of course the knot then got wedged in the slice in the hard snow when we attempted to pull the ropes. So I got two, count'em TWO ropes stuck. Both bi-color 60's, an orange-based one and a tan-based one.

I'm hoping the next party that raps will be able to get them unstuck and just drop them down into the gulley so I can retrieve them. This may involve having to cut off the stuck part if it's iced in.

So if you see these two ropes free and sitting in a pile somewhere up there in the gully or basin, if you could respond to this post or send me a PM I'd be greatful.

Edited by ann (Today at 07:37 AM)


Brian, no offence taken!

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Guiran
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 9:32 pm 
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Strong work!
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Layback
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 10:35 pm 
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Ann's a strong and smart climber.  They must have frozen on her and the party.  Major bummer.  Glad to hear they were retrieved.
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Tazz
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 10:37 pm 
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Good stuff! Thanks for sharing  up.gif
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