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Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Sperry Pk, East Face Gully, 12/6/09
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Jim Dockery
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Joined: 12 Sep 2007
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Location: Lake Stevens
Post Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:07 pm    Sperry Pk, East Face Gully, 12/6/09
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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 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.


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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Man my hot tub felt good that night!

Ariels by John Scurlock.

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jimdockery.com Panoramio
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Tom_Sjolseth
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Joined: 30 May 2007
Posts: 2415 | TRs | Pics
Location: The Kent of the East
Post Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:27 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: 04 Jun 2004
Posts: 3758 | TRs | Pics
Location: Out Hating
Post Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:36 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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Joined: 12 Nov 2007
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Post Mon Dec 07, 2009 7:19 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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Joined: 16 Oct 2008
Posts: 224 | TRs | Pics
Location: Mukilteo, WA
Post Mon Dec 07, 2009 7:50 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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Joined: 25 Apr 2005
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Post Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:04 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
Born Yesterday



Joined: 30 May 2007
Posts: 2415 | TRs | Pics
Location: The Kent of the East
Post Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:37 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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Joined: 17 Nov 2004
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Post Mon Dec 07, 2009 10:31 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
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Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 4352 | TRs | Pics
Location: Stuck in the middle
Post Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:53 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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Joined: 10 Nov 2007
Posts: 3366 | TRs | Pics
Location: What Verlot Forgot.
Post Tue Dec 08, 2009 12:32 am   
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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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Joined: 26 Jul 2006
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Location: Inexorable descent
Post Tue Dec 08, 2009 12:41 am   
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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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Joined: 12 Sep 2007
Posts: 2633 | TRs | Pics
Location: Lake Stevens
Post Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:19 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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jimdockery.com Panoramio
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BarbE
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Joined: 28 Jul 2006
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Post Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:43 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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Post Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:47 pm   
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groovy  up.gif
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Tazz
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Post Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:51 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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