This one was about the gear. Or lack of gear, in our case.
Sherpa’s west ridge is supposed to be a moderate rock climb. John Morrow left a voice message (thank you, John!) explaining that none of the pitches on Sherpa’s west ridge require many placements. This is a good thing because here is the sum total of the gear between David, Russell, and me:
If these nuts look “classic” it is because they are as old as dirt. David, the experienced climber in the group, chiseled these out of solid chunks of iron ore, with his teeth, in 1907.
On the way out of town someone had the bright idea that maybe we needed a few more pieces. So we stopped at REI and stared through the locked glass door at flashy Black Diamond nuts and cams. Suddenly I was 8 years old again and peering through Woolworth’s front window display of Matchbox cars.
“Let’s get that purple one.” I like purple.
“And that hex thingy,” David added. We have the lingo down. We’re real climbers.
We ended up picking out three new pieces using the same method I used to pick out my Matchbox Mustang toy car in 1966: They looked cool. Just look at ‘em:
Thus armed to the teeth, we assaulted Sherpa’s west ridge. The credit really goes to Russ, who styled the leads. Who needs pro when you are with a pro?
(Aside: Although our gear was sketchy for the west ridge, we had Cartman's, Yana's, and Matt’s detailed route description for the east ridge (thank you!). So naturally, we went with the sketch and headed west. )
The climb was great, although I would rate the crux on the fourth pitch harder than 5.4. (Do I hear “wimp?”)
The next day we headed up Argonaut. John Morrow’s TR calls the scrambling on Argonaut “classic.” Dicey’s TR calls it “tedious.” “It’s all about attitude,” said Russ. So true. I said this over and over to myself on the tedious – I mean classic – descent.
From Argonaut we could see how the Jack Ridge fire had blown up. That’s scary stuff.
Saturday night, the wind shifted and the smoke from the fire filled the Ingalls Creek valley, where we camped. We quickly packed and hiked out, but were amazed to see so many day hikers walking into the smoke for the day.
All in all, Sherpa and Argonaut are terrific climbs with airy summits. You can see why Stuart gets all the attention, however. It loomed over us the whole trip. It really is the monarch of the range.
Joined: 02 Mar 2003 Posts: 10980 | TRs | Pics Location: Going to Tukwila
Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:38 pm
Great report! Love the sense of humor!
BTW - Russ looks a bit like a G.I. Joe action figure, all muscle-bound and shirtless like that.
-------------- "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke
"Ignorance is natural. Stupidity takes commitment." -Solomon Short
picking out gear by color..are you getting in touch with your feminine side ?
Yes, AB, my wife would be so proud of me. As long as I don't have to pick out the kitchen color.
And Yet, by God, you are right! That shirtless dude was everywhere. I couldn't get rid of him. A couple years ago I could run him into the ground and leave him in the dust. Now he hauls me up Sherpa.
But the joke's on him. He probably thought he would meet some women out there. And all he got for company was me and his dad.
MM - we took the standard south route that is in Summit Routes, Peggy Goldman's book, and TRs by Dicey and Randy, among others. We left the Ingalls creek trail and headed uphill right at the Fourth Creek trail, following Randy's route closer than others by staying high and left (west) until we were at about 6300'. (Somehow we avoided virtually all of the bushwhacking!! ) We then dropped into the main south gulley, filling up water bottles with the trickle still coming down the gulley.
The gulley swings to the east and below Argonaut's broad south-facing summit cliffs. (Ignore the Summit Routes' direction to take a left fork in the access gulley.) Follow the main gulley all the way until you see the narrow continuation that is pictured here:
At the top, turn left and pick your way to the summit (we went through the large tunnel right below the summit).
On the return, Dave kept pushing us to our right (west) as we thrashed down Argo's southern slopes. This turned out well, as we popped out on the Ingalls Creek trail a couple hundred feet higher than at the Fourth Creek junction.
Like I was rambling to you on the phone, Sherpa turned out to be an all around, truly enjoyable day. The approach (with a climber's path), the large boulder scrambling, reaching the col, the rock climb.... all of it. It was simply an amazing day, all the way through.
Oh, and about that "dude" who keeps popping up in the photos... WHO IS THAT???? Its strange because nearly all the photos I have from the trip have this crazy looking mountain Yeti wearing an orange blazer. I think we might need a shot gun on the next trip. You know, just for protection.
-------------- Ultra violet light is good for you.
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