Forum Index > Trip Reports > Johannesburg Mtn (8,200'+) - NE Buttress - 08.20-21.11
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Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday



Joined: 30 May 2007
Posts: 2652 | TRs | Pics
Location: Right here.
Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 10:53 am 
Johannesburg Mountain.  Its N Face is one of the most striking facades in the North Cascades.  A twenty-minute hike gets you to its base, but from there, the summit is a world away.  In the 4600' of relief from the Cascade Pass parking area to the summit, this mountain has a bit of everything alpine - dramatic waterfalls, vertical brush, towering walls of rock, and eroding glaciers crumbling and falling to the valley below.  Along with the sights, the sounds of Johannesburg are equally impressive.  Rarely does a day go by where one cannot hear the mountain rumbling.

The last time I climbed Johannesburg, I told myself that I wouldn't be back for a while.. that there were other, new places for me to go visit and enjoy.  But for someone who lives and breathes the challenge of the North Cascades, I silently waited for another opportunity to arise to climb this iconic symbol of our great range.  When Wayne told me he was interested in climbing it after four prior, failed attempts, my ears perked up.  I knew that Sergio was also interested, so I asked him to come along.  Eliciting an emphatic "sure" from Sergio, we were now a team of three.

Wayne and Sergio met me at my place after work on Friday, and we were finally leaving Everett at 7:15.  We arrived to a nearly-full parking lot just before 10PM, which was a bit surprising considering it was a Friday.  We turned in soon after we arrived.

We awoke at 6AM and put on harnesses & helmets (an approach rarity).  Crossing upper Cascade River was easy this time compared with the past two times I've done it, thanks to a snow bridge left over from this Winter's huge avalanche debris piles.  Within a half hour, the approach was done, and the climbing began.  On last year's climb with Steph (Steph's TR), we got onto the rock at ~4400' in the C-J Couloir.  That resulted in a rather sketchy pitch of ~5.7 with sparse pro.  This time, we got onto the rock at the very base of the couloir, and didn't need the rope (class 3-4).

I must have a bad memory or something, because the rest of the climb seemed a bit more difficult than I remembered - either by perception or reality, I'm not really sure.  Wet brush and mud (and damp moss on rock) did make things a bit tougher this time around.  But aside from conditions, the route finding seemed trickier, and whereas last year we didn't use a rope after the very first pitch out of the couloir, this time we roped up for a steep, loose, sketchy pitch just below the bivy site.

Once through the sketchy pitch (~5.8 loose, which Wayne led), it was a short scramble on the exposed ridge crest to the bivy site, which was still as magnificent as ever.  Perhaps this is what keeps me coming back?

The next morning we awoke and continued up to the summit, with a few more challenges than I expected.  A few crevasses and schrunds were open, and the arete was sharper in places than it was last year.

Nobody had signed the summit register since Steph and I summitted last July.  The register dates back to 2008, and this was my third time signing it.

The descent was as expected, and we wound up making two rappels this time (on my prior two visits, I was able to down climb the entire descent route).  I think some very careful rappelling is OK on this ridge, but a lot of the rock is pretty loose, so I personally feel that down climbing is safer.

Back to the cars at 4:00.  17.5 hours of total climbing, which is exactly how long it took Steph and I.  If you plan to rappel the entire E Ridge and/or don't hit the route finding almost exactly right, I would suggest making this a 3-day climb.

The following photos are a mix of Wayne's, Sergio's, and mine...

What have I gotten myself into?
What have I gotten myself into?
Half way through the approach.
Half way through the approach.
Low in the C-J Couloir.
Low in the C-J Couloir.
Typical scrambling on the NE Buttress.
Typical scrambling on the NE Buttress.
Sussing it out.
Sussing it out.
Me scrambling.
Me scrambling.
Slide Alder!
Slide Alder!
Wayne and I in the brush, low on the buttress.
Wayne and I in the brush, low on the buttress.
A look up at C-J col from low on the route.
A look up at C-J col from low on the route.
Sergio and I scrambling.
Sergio and I scrambling.
Sergio on all fours.
Sergio on all fours.
Me scrambling just below the bivy.
Me scrambling just below the bivy.
Looking down to the parking lot from high on the NE Buttress.
2 labels
Looking down to the parking lot from high on the NE Buttress.
Sergio topping out on the sketchy pitch.
Sergio topping out on the sketchy pitch.
The steep, sketchy pitch.
The steep, sketchy pitch.
Wayne and his Mountain House.  Judging from what I witnessed aftwards, he should probably stay away from anything containing chili.
Wayne and his Mountain House.  Judging from what I witnessed aftwards, he should probably stay away from anything containing chili.
Wayne and I at camp.
Wayne and I at camp.
Mt. Baker at dawn.
Mt. Baker at dawn.
Good morning!
Good morning!
The view from our bivy.
The view from our bivy.
Starting out from the bivy site.
Starting out from the bivy site.
Sergio starting up the snow arete just above our bivy site.
Sergio starting up the snow arete just above our bivy site.
Wayne and Sergio.
Wayne and Sergio.
Wayne, Sergio, and the magical arete.
Wayne, Sergio, and the magical arete.
Sergio negotiates some crevasses.
Sergio negotiates some crevasses.
Wayne end-running the bergschrund.
Wayne end-running the bergschrund.
Sergio kicks steps up the steep headwall below the summit.
Sergio kicks steps up the steep headwall below the summit.
Me near the top of the snow.
Me near the top of the snow.
Wayne about to top out just below the summit.
Wayne about to top out just below the summit.
Sergio and I ascending the arete.
Sergio and I ascending the arete.
Sergio and I pause to take in the sights on the snow arete.
Sergio and I pause to take in the sights on the snow arete.
Sergio and I on the upper arete.
Sergio and I on the upper arete.
A crevasse on the upper arete.
A crevasse on the upper arete.
That's my car way down there!
That's my car way down there!
Sergio and I about to top out on the snow.
Sergio and I about to top out on the snow.
Sergio and Wayne scrambling the final bit to the summit.
Sergio and Wayne scrambling the final bit to the summit.
Sergio gives his victory pose.
Sergio gives his victory pose.
Hidden Lake Peaks and Mt. Baker.
Hidden Lake Peaks and Mt. Baker.
The Cascade Pass parking lot as seen from the summit of Johannesburg.
The Cascade Pass parking lot as seen from the summit of Johannesburg.
Thanks for the climb!
Thanks for the climb!
Sunlit hills below Johannesburg.
Sunlit hills below Johannesburg.
Views from the summit.
Views from the summit.
Sergio scrambling near the summit on the descent.
Sergio scrambling near the summit on the descent.
Me pondering life on the descent.
Me pondering life on the descent.
Spider, Formidable, and the Middle Cascade Glacier.
Spider, Formidable, and the Middle Cascade Glacier.
Wayne and I down climbing on the E Ridge.
Wayne and I down climbing on the E Ridge.
Rappelling above C-J Col.
Rappelling above C-J Col.
Sergio frolicking in fields of wildflowers.
Sergio frolicking in fields of wildflowers.

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BirdDog
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Joined: 09 Jan 2007
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Location: Seattle
BirdDog
Member
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 2:10 pm 
A another sweet write up, with a really great set of pics. The snow climbing shots are outstanding.

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"There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country."
Teddy Roosevelt August 6, 1912
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Mesahchie Mark
Really Useful Engine



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 692 | TRs | Pics
Location: Island of Sodor
Mesahchie Mark
Really Useful Engine
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 2:31 pm 
Damn!  up.gif  up.gif

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Cheers,

Mesahchie Mark
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Don
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Joined: 25 Apr 2005
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Location: Fairwood, WA
Don
Member
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 2:33 pm 
Awesome!  up.gif

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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 4260 | TRs | Pics
Location: Shoreline
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 3:40 pm 
Tom_Sjolseth wrote:
Johannesburg Mountain.  Its N Face is one of the most striking facades in the North Cascades.  A twenty-minute hike gets you to its base, but from there, the summit is a world away.  In the 4600' of relief from the Cascade Pass parking area to the summit, this mountain has a bit of everything alpine - dramatic waterfalls, vertical brush, towering walls of rock, and eroding glaciers crumbling and falling to the valley below.  Along with the sights, the sounds of Johannesburg are equally impressive.  Rarely does a day go by where one cannot hear the mountain rumbling.

Great description of why Johannesburg is such a compelling peak.

Unfortunately, the rest of your report shows why it is so rarely climbed.  Great photos of the climbing along the way also.  The view of the parking lot far below gives stunning perspective to the exposure.

Are you trying to work your way up to having a majority of entries in the register?

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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Nietzsche's Horse
Equine Philosopher



Joined: 16 Aug 2010
Posts: 92 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle
Nietzsche's Horse
Equine Philosopher
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 3:51 pm 
Tom_Sjolseth wrote:
The Cascade Pass parking lot as seen from the summit of Johannesburg.
The Cascade Pass parking lot as seen from the summit of Johannesburg.

As someone who is unlikely to ever attempt such a climb, I take some consolation in the fact that, as incredible as this perspective is, that of Johannesburg from the parking lot is even better! smile.gif

Seriously, I admire the level of commitment and intrepidness that is required to not only undertake this climb, but to complete it multiple times.  In its own way, it is as impressive as the forces that created the mountain itself.

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"Trails are like that: you're floating along in a Shakespearean Arden paradise and expect to see nymphs and fluteboys, then suddenly you're struggling in a hot broiling sun of hell in dust and nettles and poison oak... just like life." - Kerouac
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yukon222
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yukon222
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PostMon Aug 22, 2011 3:57 pm 
Thanks for the numerous pics, showing the variety of terrain.  Simply amazing scenery and terrifying exposure.  Love the final steep snowfield ascent pictures and the view way, way, way down to the parking lot!!    smile.gif

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Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday



Joined: 30 May 2007
Posts: 2652 | TRs | Pics
Location: Right here.
Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 4:13 pm 
Matt wrote:
Are you trying to work your way up to having a majority of entries in the register?

I know you're joking, but...

The late Dallas Kloke (a true Cascades legend) climbed Johannesburg seven times over the years.  Before I climbed it, I silently wondered why anyone would subject themselves to that.  Now, after climbing it (and after becoming a bit more proficient at mountaineering over the years), I completely understand.. because it is the epitome of all-around mountaineering in the non-volcanic North Cascades.  For someone who truly loves the kind of mountaineering we have the opportunity to to do in the North Cascades, Johannesburg Mountain is pure magic - entertaining, fulfilling, and spiritually captivating.  Not everyone is into a mountain like Johannesburg .. and I get that .. but don't knock it till you try it.  And if you do try it, make sure you a) are ready for anything and b) have a solid team.

God willing, I'll probably climb Johannesburg again someday.

Thanks everyone for reading the report, and for your comments.

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silence
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Joined: 25 Apr 2005
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silence
Member
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 5:00 pm 
awesome ... you have some really fine photos here tom .. nice work on all counts!

a great mountaineering shot  ...

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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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Ingunn
Hiking Viking



Joined: 01 Feb 2008
Posts: 1751 | TRs | Pics
Location: Redmond
Ingunn
Hiking Viking
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 5:14 pm 
Holy mackerel, that's steep!  eek.gif

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Mark Griffith
(Embrace yourself)



Joined: 14 Mar 2005
Posts: 852 | TRs | Pics
Location: Issaquah
Mark Griffith
(Embrace yourself)
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 6:43 pm 
Great report : beautiful words and pictures.   I love that feeling of "walking in danger" when your in the mountain, care with every step and then the amazing difference when your walking through the meadows after the summit.

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Magellan
Brutally Handsome



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
Posts: 13112 | TRs | Pics
Location: Inexorable descent
Magellan
Brutally Handsome
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 7:37 pm 
Really tasty photos there guys.  up.gif  up.gif  I love how you look so casual on snow that would have me tight.

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Dayhike Mike
Bad MFKer



Joined: 02 Mar 2003
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Dayhike Mike
Bad MFKer
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 9:13 pm 
Very, very nice. Take ME next time you go. smile.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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seawallrunner
dilettante



Joined: 27 Apr 2005
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Location: Lotusland
seawallrunner
dilettante
PostMon Aug 22, 2011 9:36 pm 
Tom, you rock smile.gif
Wayne and Sergio too, of course !!

Gorgeous photos...

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Bedivere
Why Do Witches Burn?



Joined: 25 Jul 2008
Posts: 7462 | TRs | Pics
Location: The Hermitage
Bedivere
Why Do Witches Burn?
PostTue Aug 23, 2011 12:34 am 
Sweet!  I wanna ski it!

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Photo Portfolio
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