Forum Index > Trip Reports > 7/4-6/14  Painted Traverse in excellent snow condition now
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wolffie
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PostMon Jul 07, 2014 4:18 am 
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The Painted Traverse is in excellent condition now if you like snow travel.
Red > 6735 > 6716 > 6824 >  Black > 6900 nubbins > Skullcap > 6910 > Portal > White  > 6770

Thanks to these guys for giving me the idea:
neek 8/18/13
stefan 8/4/13

Painted Traverse from Pugh 8/3/14.  Red Mt. almost touches the skyline near the right edge.  Black is the little dark triangle just left of center.
Painted Traverse from Pugh 8/3/14.  Red Mt. almost touches the skyline near the right edge.  Black is the little dark triangle just left of center.
Painted Traverse looking west from Pt. 6770 7/6/14. It starts at the distant right-center peak (Red, aka Painted), goes to Black at far right, then left over 6910 and Portal (plus other nameless nubbins) to Red Pass and White Mt. at left -- everything in the photo.
Painted Traverse looking west from Pt. 6770 7/6/14. It starts at the distant right-center peak (Red, aka Painted), goes to Black at far right, then left over 6910 and Portal (plus other nameless nubbins) to Red Pass and White Mt. at left -- everything in the photo.
Looking back at the Painted Traverse as the sun, perversely, begins to shred the clouds at the end of the trip.  5:20 PM, 10 miles from the car, I gotta be at work tomorrow, and I don't care.
Looking back at the Painted Traverse as the sun, perversely, begins to shred the clouds at the end of the trip.  5:20 PM, 10 miles from the car, I gotta be at work tomorrow, and I don't care.

Snow was just about right:  no postholing, crampons not needed (although bringing them was a defensible idea).  Snow above ~5900 on S slopes, ~5400 or even lower on N sides.  E of Red Pass, everything's under snow.  Flowers peaking low, just starting up high; full moon next weekend; long days.  This is a mountaineering high route, not a hike.  Ice ax.  Some Class 3 and even 4 (maybe that was off-route).  Almost all on snow.
Recommend clockwise because:
A.  you gain your elevation quickly in the cool of the morning, 2070 > 6975 justlikethat
B.  when you get to Red Pass, you have the choice to bail via the PCT or continue to White Mtn. and beyond, time permitting
C.  returning via N. Fork Sauk trail in the dark is much easier than the climbers' path up Red Mtn., which is is easy to follow in daylight, but it's just a path, and I'm not sure I'd want to be looking for it and committed to it in the dark.

Day 1 Fri. 7/4/14 
Almost no running water until below White Pass.  I carried 3 qts. up Red and was glad to have it.  Melted snow both nights.
I could not make the rock ridge go on the ridge east of 6716.  Maybe it's possible, but I got beyond my comfort level, definitely Class 4, exposed narrow sloping friction ledge with loose rock with close to 40 lbs. overnight gear and water, and I had to reverse it when I chickened out, hugging the wall with my camera snagging on it.  Those contours look so smooth and innocent on the map.  The Horrible Traverse scared me, and the rest of the day was very low-testosterone with my brain in Quivering Rodent mode.  Descended easy snow to circumvent the series of small wicked gendarmes below on the S side.
Got to Pt 6824 at 5:00PM, whereupon a spooky 60-minute episode of tachycardia  (I live with this) cost me another hour and further confidence.  6824 is the one just WSW of Black, and the north side snow between the two looked perfect.  The west gullies were snow-filled to the summit; easy.
West side of Black from Pt. 6716.  7/4/14.  I didn't know that an easy gully on the south of Black goes right to the top.
West side of Black from Pt. 6716.  7/4/14.  I didn't know that an easy gully on the south of Black goes right to the top.
the Horrible Traverse: exposed sloping friction slab with loose rock, meager handholds, and overnight gear.  Class 4.
the Horrible Traverse: exposed sloping friction slab with loose rock, meager handholds, and overnight gear.  Class 4.

Nope, not me, I was done.  Tired from carrying too much (skin-out weight including boots and 3 qts was almost 45 lbs).  I was spooked.  Screw Black.  Descended easy heather and carefully chosen snow (1 chute would have been a dangerous choice) to a snow camp 6200' SE of Pt 6824.  Tent up on snow just before the rain.
So twice, I bailed off to the south relatively easily.  In these conditions, continuing on the north side would've made much more sense (perfect snow), but I was spooked, and I did not know how easy the S gully straight down from the summit of Black is -- looked steep on the map -- it is -- but I found it straightforward the next day.

Day 2 Sat. 7/5/14
Clear sunny weather.  I'd given up on Black, but went for it when I saw how easy the south gully looked:  heather or snow, take your pick, all the way to the summit, simple.  Felt really good to get up there after I'd freaked.  Note: debris of recent cornice collapse on N side of Black.
Skalabats and Sloan
Skalabats and Sloan
Monte Cristo at dawn from camp
Monte Cristo at dawn from camp
the easy south gully on Black Mt.  Snow-free 7/5/14.
the easy south gully on Black Mt.  Snow-free 7/5/14.
Glacier Pk W side from Black Mt
Glacier Pk W side from Black Mt
Looking SE from Black Mt.  Background:  left, Saul; right, Indian Head.  Foreground (blends with background): right, White Mt.; follow ridge to Pt 6770 at left, where trip ends (see panos taken from there).
Looking SE from Black Mt.  Background:  left, Saul; right, Indian Head.  Foreground (blends with background): right, White Mt.; follow ridge to Pt 6770 at left, where trip ends (see panos taken from there).
Painted Traverse looking west from Black.  Skalabats at left, Red (Painted) Mt. at center, with intervening colors.
Painted Traverse looking west from Black.  Skalabats at left, Red (Painted) Mt. at center, with intervening colors.

Crossed the basin SE to three nobules, 6930, 6900, 6844.
Weather deteriorated, cloud cap, lenticulars, light rain, en route S to Skullcap.  Racing the rain, I made it to 6910, donned full rain gear at the summit, and found a fine bivvy site just below the summit, sheltered on the east side about 6750'.   How could I know the worst was past and the sun would be out again soon?  Nice night, Glacier Peak out one door, Portal Peak out the other.  Stars at night.  I saw a bear on the ridge watching me, a few hundred yards away; I put my boots on to go up to investigate, and found... marmot tracks.  Yes, I mistook a marmot for a bear -- it was BLACK and looked BIG and HUNGRY.  At least it got me back up to the summit for a magnificent sunset.
Glacier Pk from camp on Pt 6910.
Glacier Pk from camp on Pt 6910.
Camp 2 just below summit of Pt 6910
Camp 2 just below summit of Pt 6910
Glacier Pk sunset
Glacier Pk sunset

Day 3 Sun. 7/6/14
at camp
at camp
camp follower
camp follower

Morning whiteout.  Slept in late.  Didn't leave until 11 AM.  Followed the ridge over Portal to Red Pass  to White Mtn. and on to Pt 6770 above Foam Basin.  You can stand there and look back upon the whole route; it makes a big "Z" snaking back-and-forth, and you've climbed just about everything along the whole line of ridges.
I'd put on full rain gear on White Mt., got to 6770 at 4:00 PM and stood there 45 min., looking at the route and watching the overcast slowly shred.  Sun came out gradually from then on.  Glorious.  Walked all the nubbins along the White Chuck/Foam Basin divide.  Really hard to leave.  Left the ridge at 5:20.  Headlamp time 9:55.  Back to car at 10:50.
Saw only 2 distant small parties.  Parking lot overflowing when I got there 7AM July 4; only one other car when I left.  Spectacular landscape.  Surpassed all expectations.  When I die, screw Heaven; I'll go back there if I can take ice cream and root beer.
I'd almost stayed home 'cause I was feeling unmotivated.
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Michael Lewis
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PostMon Jul 07, 2014 5:21 am 
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I just drew up a google earth polygon line with this exact route in mind! So cool that you went up there! up.gif
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Roly Poly
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PostMon Jul 07, 2014 7:00 am 
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Great trip report.  I bet your photos will be fantastic once you add them.  I assume that this was without a corgi.
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neek
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PostMon Jul 07, 2014 7:41 am 
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Great route; I plan to repeat soon and maybe get up White this time.  That rock ridge was scary enough carrying a micro pack.  I wouldn't think of doing it with an overnight pack.  Glad you found a way around.
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chiwakum
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PostMon Jul 07, 2014 11:39 pm 
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Great beta! Thx! Much more useful than any of my crappy TRs
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Goats Know
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PostWed Jul 09, 2014 10:42 am 
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Nice trip report Wolffie!!  :up

--------------
Here on this mountaintop...Woahoho...I got some wild, wild life  - Talking Heads
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yukon222
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PostWed Jul 09, 2014 11:12 am 
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Interesting to see your report on this area from earlier in the season than when I did it in 2012 (early September).  I enjoyed seeing the snow in your pics.

FYI - here is my GPS track.  We did the loop counterclockwise.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/8246712@N03/sets/72157631441302644

Total 25.4 miles and 12,600' gain over 2 1/2 days.
Total 25.4 miles and 12,600' gain over 2 1/2 days.
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wolffie
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PostWed Jul 09, 2014 3:20 pm 
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My Camp 1 was just east of your Camp 2 on the tiny spur S of 6824.  It was easy to bail downwards on the south sides.
As you can see in the 3rd photo, the north side of that stretch was heavily snow-covered, and the only reasons I didn't walk the north side snow were that I was rattled and tired, it was getting late, weather looked unreliable, and mainly because I didn't know how easy the descent on the S side of Black would be.  I should've just camped high up there on the ridge, but the incoming weather looked a lot worse than it turned out to be.
My Camp 2 was very close to your Camp 1, but about 100' below the summit on the east side, sheltered from the wind.
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contour5
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PostWed Jul 09, 2014 7:05 pm 
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Very nice TR. I'm thinking of heading up that way in the next few days... thanks for the timely beta. Also: Great pictures!
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > 7/4-6/14  Painted Traverse in excellent snow condition now
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