Forum Index > Trip Reports > The “A” Team Gets Lost (and Monumented, and Laked)–June 2009
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Roald
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Roald
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PostWed Jul 01, 2009 8:35 am 
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I had such a good time with great folks that I had to write something up about this trip.  It turned into a TR of its own, although see John Morrow’s main TR for this trip.

Monument, Blackcap (in middle), and Lake
Monument, Blackcap (in middle), and Lake
Lake Mountain, from Pistol Pass
Lake Mountain, from Pistol Pass

“Hey, I recognize you!”  The tall stranger’s voice boomed as we strode into the Marblemount ranger station.  “You’re the nwhikers “A” Team!”

The guy definitely was not talking to me.  Rather, it was Dicey, Randy, and donb that had him cooing.  Now, I’ve climbed with famous people before, and even written about it.  But never the A Team.  I was there as an A Team groupie.  Soon we would be joined by John Morrow, who all by himself constitutes the A+ Team.  But more on that later.

Because John’s TR is sort of long, let me summarize the trip in one sentence:  We set out to traverse Ragged Ridge and ended up on Lost Peak.

Ok, that wasn’t the whole trip.  There were other details.  For example, John found this pump handle, and even more amazingly, knew that it was a pump handle and told us how it was used:

Pump handle
Pump handle

Day 1:  The A Team takes a detour

The rangers at Marblemount scared us away from the North Cascades with a forecast of bad weather.  So we turned east for the big country of the Pasayten.  In the glow of first-day energy, even the hike up the Monument Creek trail over Pistol Pass did not seem so bad.  We camped in the basin just north of the Pass.

Lost River, from Monument Creek trail
Lost River, from Monument Creek trail

Day 2:  The A Team takes many detours

Having made it that far, we agreed on Lost Peak as an objective for Day 2.  The idea was to maintain elevation by traversing NW over the E and NE ridges of Lake Mountain, swing north through Monument basin, and gain Lost’s west ridge around Butte Pass.

A few hours later and we were in the bowels of Monument basin.  At that moment John had a proposal that no A Team wannabe should refuse.

“We’re close to Blackcap,” he noted.  “Let’s go up Blackcap, circle to Shellrock pass, and take the trail up to Butte Pass.”

“Sure,” I should have said.  “And stop by Costco on the way to pick up some mini-pockets for dinner.”  You see, Lost was a long way away – east – and getting to Blackcap would take us west.

There was another issue.  I’d been to Blackcap before, and I cannot see how visiting that peak twice is an intelligent thing to do.

Don also had been to Blackcap – just last fall – and as an A Team leader, he pointed out that adding Blackcap to the itinerary could lead us into a significant sufferthon.  (Note to self:  In the future, listen to Don.)

It was just then that I learned about another A Team skill:  Dicey’s power of persuasion.  “C’mon,” she encouraged.  “We’re the A Team.  Let’s stick together.”

No one can refuse an appeal like that.  So – together – we crossed northwest up Monument basin to the fun scramble on Blackcap’s NE ridge.  Along the way we passed a pretty pond:

Tarn in Monument basin
Tarn in Monument basin
Looking down on Monument basin from Blackcap's upper ridge
Looking down on Monument basin from Blackcap's upper ridge
Looking up Monument basin to Blackcap
Looking up Monument basin to Blackcap
Blackcap scrambling
Blackcap scrambling
Scrambling Blackcap
Scrambling Blackcap
Osceola Peak
Osceola Peak
Ptarmigan Peak, from Blackcap
Ptarmigan Peak, from Blackcap
Descending Blackcap
Descending Blackcap

(A note:  Don now has the distinction of signing Blackcap’s register two entries in a row.  He was the last to sign in 2008, and the first to sign in 2009.  Register hog.)

After that it was a race around the eastern lip of Shellrock basin to Shellrock Pass, where we encountered a large NOLS group in the middle of a 30-day hike.  The NOLS students were scratching their heads over how to negotiate the snow-covered drop down the east side of the pass.  This is when our A Team leadership instincts kicked in yet again … we went butt-sliding.  Looking back, we saw the students leaning over the lip of snow at the top, watching the impeccable A Team technique, and no doubt wishing that they too could hang out with such sophisticated climbers.

Upper Shellrock basin
Upper Shellrock basin
Carru and Lago
Carru and Lago
Osceola, Carru, from upper Shellrock basin
Osceola, Carru, from upper Shellrock basin

The slog over Pass Butte – I think we went over the high point – and up Lost was so engrossing that I forgot to take any pictures.  That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.  At one point, thinking I was way ahead of the A Team, I stopped to take off my shoes and socks to dry them out, something that properly should require a Department of Ecology permit for toxic emissions.  Dicey, however, kindly pointed out that everyone else had traversed below my route and was ahead of me – reestablishing the normal order of things.  Argh, tricked again by the A Team.

Eventually in what I am sure is not a long time, at least by geologic standards, we reached the top.

The A Team on Lost Peak
The A Team on Lost Peak

It was getting late, and we still had a 3400-foot descent and 1500-foot ascent back to camp.  Fortunately, John, Randy, and Don had scouted a quick descent down Lost’s central SW gully.  John led us down the scree, then snow, and through meadows and forest, directly to the sketchy and unmaintained Monument Creek trail.  It was an impressive sequence of decisions, each leading to just the right place to stay on moderate slopes and avoid obstacles.

Our descent was down the central gully with the snow patch.
Our descent was down the central gully with the snow patch.
Talus to scree, descending Lost
Talus to scree, descending Lost
Pile of rubble
Pile of rubble
Descending Lost
Descending Lost
Descending Lost
Descending Lost
Descending Lost
Descending Lost
Monument Creek, valley bottom
Monument Creek, valley bottom

As darkness settled in, we crossed Monument Creek and passed by Clint’s Cabin (who’s Clint?).  The trail took us south, then west, and a quarter moon rose over the cliffs of Pistol Peaks.

Clint's cabin
Clint's cabin

One might think that the 1500-foot uphill grind back to camp would be enough work.  But nooo – in the darkness I walked right by camp and was part way to Pistol Pass before my compatriots took pity and hollered for me to turn around.  Good thing, because if they hadn’t they probably would have had to step over my expired carcass on their way out a couple days later.

At camp, we totaled up the mileage and elevation for the day.  I think the final numbers on which we agreed were 949 miles and 24,000 feet.  Or 24,000 miles and 949 feet.  Yeah, that’s it.


Day 3:  The A Team takes it easy, sort of

… Which is a good thing because by now I realized that I was running seriously low on food.  Even a double-helping of Mountain High Lasagna has only about 600 calories, and on Lost Peak alone I had burned up about 59,000 calories.  By the laws of physics, something had to give, like my right leg, and I did not like the prospect of that.

Fortunately, Day 3’s itinerary was a bit more forgiving.  We climbed to a col on Lake’s south ridge at about 7400 feet, and dropped into a beautiful basin between Lake and Monument’s SE ridge.  Rather than dropping all the way to the toe of the SE ridge, we saved a couple hundred feet by going up a left-slanting set of lightly-timbered ledges to gain the SE ridge at about 6800 feet.  Much of the climbing along the ridge was solid and fun.  At the top, we skirted above the snowpatch along the ridge connecting the lower E peak to the main W peak.

Monument's upper snowfield
Monument's upper snowfield
John on Monument
John on Monument
The ridge traverse from Monument's E Peak
The ridge traverse from Monument's E Peak
Don's airy moves on Monument
Don's airy moves on Monument
Randy on Monument
Randy on Monument
Carla on Monument
Carla on Monument
Robinson, from Monument
Robinson, from Monument
Osceola and Carru, from Monument
Osceola and Carru, from Monument

Then it was on to Lake Mountain.  John had scouted a route up a west-facing gully to Lake, which permitted a straight shot up the mountain from the basin between Lake and Monument.  Once again, there was a lot of fun scrambling on solid stuff, mixed in with the lose debris.  We descended Lake’s east ridge toward a pretty lake a bit higher than Lake of the Woods, and this time returned to camp with plenty of daylight left.

John having fun on Lake's upper W gully
John having fun on Lake's upper W gully
Looking down Lake's W gully
Looking down Lake's W gully
Lake's S nob
Lake's S nob
Monument Peak, from Lake Mountain
Monument Peak, from Lake Mountain
Dicey on Lake
Dicey on Lake
Lost Peak, from Lake Mountain
Lost Peak, from Lake Mountain
Scrambling down Lake's east ridge
Scrambling down Lake's east ridge
Small lake below Lake's east ridge
Small lake below Lake's east ridge

Day 4:  It’s all downhill to the feed bag

The hike back to the car was not as grueling as expected.  In fact, except for the death march back to camp in the dark on Day 2, any grueling aspect was offset by good conversation and tales of mountain lore.  At times I hustled to keep up just to listen in.

When we hit civilization we had to do something to fix the calorie deficit, stopping on a tour of eateries for a multiple-course mega meal.
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Dayhike Mike
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Dayhike Mike
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PostWed Jul 01, 2009 8:57 am 
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Roald wrote:
Lake's S nob
Lake's S nob

Hey! Who you callin' a Lake Snob? smile.gif

Joking aside...thanks for the second nice trip report, complete with pics, on this beautiful area. Looks like you guys had a great time and really covered some ground. up.gif up.gif

--------------
"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
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Schmidt Alti-Babe
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Schmidt Alti-Babe
The Ice Queen
PostWed Jul 01, 2009 4:20 pm 
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Fun to read about your trip after John Morrow's version.  The "A" team humor had me chuckling.  Strong work everyone and great trip.  up.gif
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wildernessed
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wildernessed
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PostWed Jul 01, 2009 4:34 pm 
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Awesome Jon, but who in the group is going to fess up to being Mr. T. hockeygrin.gif

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I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent_Gandhi
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John Morrow
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John Morrow
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PostWed Jul 01, 2009 5:02 pm 
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wildernessed wrote:
Awesome Jon, but who in the group is going to fess up to being Mr. T. :hockeygrin:

I pitty the foo!!!!!!

Jon, You write one heck of a great story!  Thanks for the great humor!
John
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Magellan
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Magellan
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PostWed Jul 01, 2009 5:23 pm 
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Great writing!  Thanks for the pictures and route advice.  up.gif
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Roald
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Roald
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PostWed Jul 01, 2009 9:45 pm 
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But – and way better than Mr. T – I forgot Beyond Lost!  On the way out we stopped to say hello and Bob and his wife graciously welcomed us.  Sorry to out you, Crazy Bob, but here's a picture of Beyond Lost himself with the A Team:
Visiting Bob's piece of paradise
Visiting Bob's piece of paradise

Is there some resemblance to Mr. T?
Mr. T
Mr. T
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yew
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yew
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PostThu Jul 02, 2009 12:10 am 
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If I remember correctly, wildland firefighters use that pump handle as a wrench to take caps off & on water pumps and the female side of metal hose connections.  In that kind of wilderness locale, it very well could've been used on a hose lay from Mark III portable pump.

40+ some years from now that tool will be an archaeological resource.
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peltoms
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PostThu Jul 02, 2009 4:02 am 
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Looks like some nice rock on Lake.  That is some rubble pile and scree on Lost. up.gif
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John Morrow
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John Morrow
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PostThu Jul 02, 2009 4:43 am 
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yew wrote:
If I remember correctly, wildland firefighters use that pump handle as a wrench to take caps off & on water pumps and the female side of metal hose connections.  In that kind of wilderness locale, it very well could've been used on a hose lay from Mark III portable pump.

40+ some years from now that tool will be an archaeological resource.

You're right on Yew, funny thing was was it must have been a very small fire, perhaps an individual tree, since we saw no evidence of burned trees, blowdown etc. The water was 100 yards away.  Also found a plastic rim/gasket to a 5 gallon water cubey.  It was all from quite a while back.
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cartman
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PostThu Jul 02, 2009 7:17 am 
Re: The “A” Team Gets Lost (and Monumented, and Laked)–June
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Great TR, Jon.  Fun to read.

Roald wrote:
There was another issue.  I’d been to Blackcap before, and I cannot see how visiting that peak twice is an intelligent thing to do.

No kidding.  And try going up the face.  Once.
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BeyondLost
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BeyondLost
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PostThu Jul 02, 2009 7:57 am 
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Roald wrote:
But – and way better than Mr. T – I forgot Beyond Lost!  On the way out we stopped to say hello and Bob and his wife graciously welcomed us.  Sorry to out you, Crazy Bob, but here's a picture of Beyond Lost himself with the A Team:
Visiting Bob's piece of paradise
Visiting Bob's piece of paradise

Is there some resemblance to Mr. T?
Mr. T
Mr. T

rotf.gif

No! But, it is an honor just to be pictured with the A Team.  up.gif
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