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Layback
Proud Papa x2



Joined: 16 Mar 2007
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Layback
Proud Papa x2
PostMon Jun 02, 2008 8:02 pm 
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Full trip report on AlpineTarn.net

A few pics from the day:
Yellow Jacket Tower
Yellow Jacket Tower
Peter Leading Pitch Two
Peter Leading Pitch Two
Lupine Meadow
Lupine Meadow

Alex, Brian, Peter and I met in Monroe at 6:00 AM and lazily drove east over Stevens Pass.  Full of blossoming trees and melting snow, spring has most certainly come to the pass.  After a nice ride with great conversation we arrived in Leavenworth where we met Dennis and Kent at 8:00 AM.

With our group fully assembled we drove to 6.1 miles down Icicle Creek Road to a turnoff just past a bridge.  We began our approach to the base of Yellow Jacket Tower at 8:15 AM.  After leaving the cars, we crossed a bridge and walked along a gravel road for a brief stint before finding the climberís trail on the right.  We walked blissfully through a purple meadow of blossoming Lupine.  The fun stopped thereÖ

The trail from the meadow to the base of the climb gains 1,500 feet in what I would estimate to be a mile or less.  We made our quad and calf-burning ascent gaining that ground in less than an hour.  At the base of the rock we rested, ate and cooled off while we enjoyed the fact that the approach was over.

After that, Alex and I scoped out a route up into the gully.  Normally one goes right around a large chock stone (actually a boulder) and then back left.  Unfortunately the easy route around the obstacle was wet so we had to take a more extreme route to the right over 5th class terrain, which required a belay.  I led out and brought Alex in.  Peter, Kent, Brian and Dennis soon followed.

Once around the obstruction, we worked our way up the gully past rappel anchors to the base of the hidden gully that marks the entrance to the climbing.  Alex and I again tried to scope out a route.  Alex had almost made it around a second obstruction when his footing suddenly failed (on sand) causing him to slide down the small slab he was on.  An on-the-fly spot from Dennis and myself stopped him.  I gave it a quick try and decided that the sand on the slab was going to cause problems.  Alex gave me a quick belay and I covered the ground placing a few cams as I moved up.  At the base of the actual climb, I used a tree as an anchor and established a hand line allowing others to cover the terrain aided by a prussik.  We hung our packs on an anchor I built using my pink and brown tricams.

The climb itself is two pitches of 5.4 rock climbing with reasonably good protection.  The first pitch was very enjoyable.  I worked my way up a crack in the middle of an open book placing protection as I went.  After about 80 feet and, a bit of unprotected but easy face climbing, I reached a belay ledge and brought Alex up.  From there we scrambled up to a broad ledge at the base of the final tower.  After a quick break to get our rope sorted, Alex belayed me again as Brian and Dennis made their way up the first pitch.

The second pitch, which is only about 35 feet of climbing to the top of the tower, is notorious for being poorly protected.  After placing 3 cams and gaining about 25 feet of ground, I reached what many believe to be mental crux of the climb.  Itís a some-what airy 10 foot section of 5.3 rock that can be protected by placing a pink tricam in a small pocket.  It was then that I realized the error in my ways.  Like a total jackass, I had used my pink tricam (that the guide book calls for) to make sure out packs were secure!  ďWell at least my water will be there waiting for meĒ, I thought as I cursed my stupidity.  I tried to place a red tricam in the pocket that was perfectly designed for the pink piece of protection and it nearly fit.

As I yarded on the red tricam, trying to convince myself it would hold a fall, I quickly realized that there was significant evidence to conclude that it would indeed not.  With all the force I could muster, I ripped the tricam from the rock and sent myself cart-wheeling backwards over the ledge.  Itís the most time Iíve ever been airborne in a lead fall.  I actually had time to realize I was falling, yell to Alex, and think to myself, ďThis is not going to be pretty.Ē  I hit the ledge, left butt-cheek first, and toppled over.  I landed in a way that left me hanging nearly upside down over the ledge looking down a face 100 feet.  I think I actually had time to aim my fall, push off and avoid the ledge but I really donít remember actively thinking it.  Miraculously, I only had a few cuts on my palm, wrist, hand and butt and I did not appear to be injured.

As I looked at the tricam still in my hand, I shouted to Alex that I was okay and mentally prepared myself to finish the last ten feet.  With two of my fingers and the palm of my left hand bleeding a little bit from being put through the cheese grader that is granite, and a little bit of shock from what had happened, I started to think negative thoughts and lost my nerve.  I decided that it would be wise to come down, have a snack and think about things.

As I ate my snack, and thought about my tricams at the base of the climb, Brian and Dennis joined us on the ledge.  Alex and I recounted the experience for them.  Poor Brian had to hear my tale as he prepared to lead his way to the top.  As Dennis belayed, Brian did a great job of leading the final pitch without the necessary tricam.  He tagged the summit and Dennis lowered him down.  As I sat there and assessed my mental and physical state, the two changed places and Dennis tagged the top using Brianís top rope.  As Peter and Kent made their way to the large ledge where we were all seated on, I decided that a top rope was sounding pretty darn good.  When Brian lowered Dennis I tied into the rope and Brian belayed me so I could tag the top.  Not wanting to mess with Peterís head the way I had assumingly messed with Brianís head, I told Peter that I was just going to have a look at something that Brian had pointed out.  I reached the summit and Brian lowered me so that Peter and Kent could have their turn.  The pair made their ascent flawlessly and we started our rappel down the climb and gully towards the cars.

Brian and Alex went ahead to set up the rappel ropes as I recounted the story to Peter and Kent.  Peter was happy that I had kept the details to myself.  Glad to be on our way out, we worked our way down the the climb and the gully through a series of four rappels.  Soon after we found the climberís trail.  Happy to be done with the technical portion of the climb, we descended quickly and found our way back to the cars.
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Magellan
Brutally Handsome



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
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Location: Inexorable descent
Magellan
Brutally Handsome
PostMon Jun 02, 2008 8:52 pm 
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Layback wrote:
I hit the ledge, left butt-cheek first, and toppled over.

Not something I want to be part of my day. paranoid.gif
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Hiker Mama
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Hiker Mama
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PostTue Jun 03, 2008 7:24 am 
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Those lupines look awful pretty.  I'm glad you weren't more seriously injured. up.gif
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dicentra
Plant Geek



Joined: 04 May 2003
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Location: Der Town
dicentra
Plant Geek
PostTue Jun 03, 2008 8:23 am 
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Hiker Mama wrote:
Those lupines look awful pretty.† I'm glad you weren't more seriously injured. up.gif

ditto.gif

Be careful out there! You have a whole season ahead of you!
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Mark Griffith
(Embrace yourself)



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
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Mark Griffith
(Embrace yourself)
PostTue Jun 03, 2008 8:26 am 
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Well written report, I could feel the experience of your fall, made my palms sweaty.
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Don
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Don
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PostTue Jun 03, 2008 9:01 am 
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mbgriffi wrote:
Well written report, I could feel the experience of your fall, made my palms sweaty.

ditto.gif   Except, there is no confirmation on the pack's well-being upon your return...

Seriously, glad to hear you are ok.  I've never climbed Yellowjacket, but know of some SARS incidents up there in year's past.  Now I understand why.
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detekt
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Joined: 26 Feb 2004
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detekt
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PostTue Jun 03, 2008 9:50 am 
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Quote:
I hit the ledge, left butt-cheek first, and toppled over.  I landed in a way that left me hanging nearly upside down over the ledge looking down a face 100 feet.  I think I actually had time to aim my fall, push off and avoid the ledge but I really donít remember actively thinking it.  Miraculously, I only had a few cuts on my palm, wrist, hand and butt and I did not appear to be injured

Damn!  I'm glad you didn't mess yourself up.
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Grizzy
Yellow Cedar Hugger



Joined: 16 Jul 2006
Posts: 1934 | TRs
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Grizzy
Yellow Cedar Hugger
PostTue Jun 03, 2008 1:11 pm 
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Glad it wasn't worse! up.gif Who was the guy that said getting the Sh*t scared out of you at least once a year was the best part of living a full life? I agree with that....hope you heal fast....

--------------
All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other -
Only the mountain and I. ~Li Po~
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tigermn
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tigermn
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PostTue Jun 03, 2008 3:38 pm 
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Yikes!

I'll stick to my hiking trails or at least non exposed off trail kind of excursions. Too much of a big chicken at heart I guess.

--------------
My flickr photo site.
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goats gone wild
Mr. Goat



Joined: 19 Aug 2007
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goats gone wild
Mr. Goat
PostTue Jun 03, 2008 4:24 pm 
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Glad you're okay, Layback.   up.gif

--------------
.....leaving me wanting to return over and over in what ever capacity that may be, even if one day my knees are too old and I can only see the mountains from my porch.

Jason Hummel
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wildernessed
viewbagger



Joined: 31 Oct 2004
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wildernessed
viewbagger
PostTue Jun 03, 2008 6:51 pm 
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hairy.gif

--------------
Living in the Anthropocene
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Layback
Proud Papa x2



Joined: 16 Mar 2007
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Location: On a Bike
Layback
Proud Papa x2
PostTue Jun 03, 2008 7:15 pm 
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Thanks everyone for your kind thoughts.  As crazy as this may sound, it was a good experience.  I learned a few things:

1)  You can take a big lead fall and be okay.  In ten years of climbing I've only taken a few lead falls and they were each really small (3-6 feet) and I had been caught before I even realized what was happening.  Not that I'm about to start doing crazy run-outs or anything...

2)  On more than one occasion I've nearly fallen over testing gear.  It's time that I started doing a sort of cost/benefit analysis with these situations and consider the fact that if I yank too hard on a suspect piece of protection and fall over have I really accomplished anything?

Anyway, I think I've walked away from the experience a better climber.

To answer your question Don - the whole crew is fine.  It was a great climb despite the drama.   up.gif
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dacker
little black dots



Joined: 27 Sep 2006
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Location: the end of my rope
dacker
little black dots
PostTue Jun 03, 2008 10:03 pm 
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That's why I carry two pink tricams on my rack!!  There are so many places where nothing else will work. tongue.gif

I've lately been looking at YJT from across the creek, but avoiding it cuz a friend from Tacoma died after a fall there a couple years back. I'll get past that eventually and pay it a visit.

--------------
We don't stop hiking because we grow old; we grow old because we stop hiking. --Finis Mitchell
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Yellow Jacket Tower 6/1/08
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