Forum Index > Trip Reports > Sperry Pk, East Face Gully, 12/6/09
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Jim Dockery
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Jim Dockery
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PostMon Dec 07, 2009 1:07 pm 
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Mark Hanna, Steven Packard, and I climbed the gully route on the east face of Sperry Pk. on Sunday. I'd driven up the day before to check out conditions and take pictures, hoping the north face might be in (not). After reading Tom's great TR on Big Four I knew conditions were about as good as we get around here, so I was very happy when Mark called me back to say he was up for a climb on Sunday.
The picture by Connor Miller that got me psyched
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The picture by Connor Miller that got me psyched
Sperry East Face Gully route 12.6.09
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Sperry East Face Gully route 12.6.09
[b:464b826c31]Big[/b:464b826c31] Pano, Sperry Pk
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Big Pano, Sperry Pk

The climb is relatively moderate, but it kicked our out of shape asses, and took 12 hours car to car. It was easy driving to the end of the Sunrise Mine road, then the trail was a cruise up into Wirtz Basin, so the approach went quickly.

Moonset over Sperry
Moonset over Sperry
Steve & Mark in Wirtz Basin below Sperry
Steve & Mark in Wirtz Basin below Sperry

We headed straight up into a gully that splits the lower slabs, stopping to don crampons about half way up at an icy step. When we reached the snowy slabs below the steep upper face we were jazzed to see the gully filled in (we couldn't see into the first part on the approach).
Vesper - Sperry ariel
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Vesper - Sperry ariel
Approach gully
Approach gully
Up and across slabs to gully
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Up and across slabs to gully

We geared up at the shrund, then started dragging the ropes while third classing the first pitch. We belayed the second, which had some spicy mixed ice and rock (technical crux) with minimal pro.
1st Pitch
1st Pitch
Spindrift
Spindrift
1st crux
1st crux

Lots of easy gully cruising on firm snow, with little nice little ice steps thrown in, made up the middle of the climb.

Ever steeping less consolidated snow leading up to the NE ridge got strenuous, especially where hollows below rocks or the occasional tree cut out footholds. Steven got the physical crux of the climb on such a move that required hooking a tree and pulling up with disintegrating footholds above a near vertical flute that dropped into the north face.
Sperry upper north face
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Sperry upper north face
Climbing to ridge
Climbing to ridge
Looking down at last real belay just above crux
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Looking down at last real belay just above crux

Becky says it is 300 ft. from the ridge to the summit, but he's off by about 300 ft. When we pulled over the hump we hoped was the top our hearts sank looking across a ridge at another snow face that looked very steep. Luckily it was just the straight on view that psyched us out, once I started punching up it I found relatively moderate going, but no protection. We were all running out of gas so it was hard motoring up when every move required full axe plunges and hard step kicking for security, but the sun was going down and we needed to move, so I gave it my all leading up to the summit, then pulling the ropes for Mark and Steve as they followed.
Sperry upper north face
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Sperry upper north face
Sunset on Del Campo
Sunset on Del Campo

We wanted to hit Headlee Pass before dark, so there was little time for summit relaxation. We guzzled some half frozen water, Mark and Steve coiled ropes, while I snapped a few pictures.
Summit Pano
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Summit Pano
Steven coils a rope
Steven coils a rope
Me on top
Me on top

Descending the west face went well, but took constant care with the firm snow conditions. We ended up facing in and front pointing down many places. The long traverse over to the pass was a sting in the tail since we were pretty tired at that point - frenching across the steep icy slope in the last light we were well aware that catching a crampon would result in a long ride into the valley below.
west face Sperry
west face Sperry

Headlamps on, descending the pass was easy, then it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other down the basin, then the trail (which we lost a couple times). We hit the car at 7 and drove home down a silent Mountain Loop Highway.
Below Headlee
Below Headlee

Man my hot tub felt good that night!
Sunsets behind Vesper
Sunsets behind Vesper

Ariels by John Scurlock.

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jimdockery.com
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Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday



Joined: 30 May 2007
Posts: 2587 | TRs | Pics
Location: Right here.
Tom_Sjolseth
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PostMon Dec 07, 2009 3:27 pm 
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Freakin sweet line!!  Way to get after it.   up.gif
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Yana
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Joined: 03 Jun 2004
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Yana
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PostMon Dec 07, 2009 3:36 pm 
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Oh, so this is what you do when the snow sucks too much to ski.  clown.gif

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PLAY SAFE! SKI ONLY IN CLOCKWISE DIRECTION! LET'S ALL HAVE FUN TOGETHER!
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Hikingqueen
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Hikingqueen
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PostMon Dec 07, 2009 6:19 pm 
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Love the pic of steven on top. Beautiful backdrop! You planned that one well!
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fwb
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fwb
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PostMon Dec 07, 2009 6:50 pm 
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Nice job. up.gif


My uncle was working on checking out a claim next to that gully and I was wondering about it...
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silence
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silence
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PostMon Dec 07, 2009 8:04 pm 
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SWEET .. nice work guys .. way to kick butt .. jd your photos rock!

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PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
FILMMAKING: http://www.crestpictures.com/

Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. Bob Dylan
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Tom_Sjolseth
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Tom_Sjolseth
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PostMon Dec 07, 2009 8:37 pm 
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Wow, nice looking route.  That looks like a lot of fun!
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Justus S.
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Justus S.
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PostMon Dec 07, 2009 9:31 pm 
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Wow, Strong work! Looks like a great route. Jim, those are some sweet pics. up.gif
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostMon Dec 07, 2009 10:53 pm 
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Wow, that's doing Sperry in style  up.gif  up.gif

We're getting some really first class winter climbing reports so far this winter. Is the creek mostly dried up (iced up?) near the trail head?
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Chief Joseph
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Chief Joseph
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PostMon Dec 07, 2009 11:32 pm 
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Nice! up.gif   How was the river crossing?, and no snow on the entry road at all?

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Go placidly amid the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
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Magellan
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Magellan
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PostMon Dec 07, 2009 11:41 pm 
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Strong work!  Really nice pictures too.  up.gif

What a week.  Roads that are driveable to great climbing all over the state.
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Jim Dockery
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Location: Lake Stevens
Jim Dockery
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PostTue Dec 08, 2009 6:19 am 
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If you have time off this week get up there someplace - everything looks good! Best conditions up high are on south or west faces where the sun melted deep - frozen solid. The ice in the gully was nice for climbing, but not thick enough for great pro - about half the screws we placed ended up being more psychological than bomber. The snow on the last third was also too soft for pickets or axe belays, luckily we finally found a few trees (none in the gully). The road has dry tire tracks to the end, you don't even need a 4WD. Trail is easier than summer, low water makes for very easy creek crossings, but some ice on rocks to watch out for if you're doing it by headlamp.

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BarbE
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BarbE
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PostTue Dec 08, 2009 5:43 pm 
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Impressive work and pictures.
Love the summit pano up.gif  up.gif  up.gif
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BigSteve
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BigSteve
mere tourist
PostTue Dec 08, 2009 5:47 pm 
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groovy  up.gif
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Tazz
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Tazz
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PostTue Dec 08, 2009 5:51 pm 
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I am so happy you share your reports and art here.  smile.gif  slobber.gif  stun.gif
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