Forum Index > Trip Reports > Russian Butte, a 21 hour day - 7/25/2016
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Gimpilator
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Joined: 12 Oct 2006
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Location: Edmonds, WA
Gimpilator
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PostMon Jul 25, 2016 1:54 pm 
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Mayumi and Brent invited me to to join them for a climb of Russian Butte.  This peak raised my interest with a reputation for being long, challenging and not often climbed.  We were disappointed to discover that the Middle Fork road was blocked by construction just before the Granite Lakes trailhead despite online claims that it would be open.  This would make our hike 22 miles instead of the anticipated 18.  We started hiking at 4:30am and did not finish until 1:50am.

Russian Butte seen from Moolock, April 2014
Russian Butte seen from Moolock, April 2014
Russian Butte seen from Preacher Mountain, April 2014
Russian Butte seen from Preacher Mountain, April 2014

We made good time up to Thompson Point, just 4 hours.  After that, travel along the narrow brushy ridge to Revolution Peak was much slower.  We traversed around the peak rather than over it and then continued north toward Russian Butte.  Sometimes the crest is easier than either of the side slopes, but we alternated between all three options.  Occasional dense trees slowed our progress.  We could see that traversing slopes far below the crest would include more brush.  As Dreisbach suggests, this peak is probably better done in June when snow makes for easier travel.

Thompson Point "trail"
Thompson Point "trail"
Si, Teneriffe, Green
Si, Teneriffe, Green
Rainier, Kent, McClellan
Rainier, Kent, McClellan
Thompson Point cabin
Thompson Point cabin
"Little Comrade" and Russian Butte
"Little Comrade" and Russian Butte
Russian Butte
Russian Butte
a closer view
a closer view
we saw a lot of these
we saw a lot of these
Gifford Lakes
Gifford Lakes
along the ridge
along the ridge

Before you get to the peak, there are two main large rock formations along the ridge.  These are bypassed on the east side.  The Dreisbach guide indicates going to the last saddle before the peak and looking for an “easy ramp on the west face.  Hoping to find this ramp, I spent time scouting a notch and then a saddle just south of the peak but no ramp was to be found.  I concluded that the ramp in question was actually much higher on the peak between the main summit and a rock horn which is shows in the contours on the map.

traversing below the east face with Revolution in the background
traversing below the east face with Revolution in the background
trees at the top of the gully
trees at the top of the gully
almost out
almost out
steep heather and minor cliffs on the northeast face
steep heather and minor cliffs on the northeast face

To reach this upper saddle you would have to scramble up the steep southeast face.  Many parties ascend this way, however it didn’t look like a good option to us, so we went in search of rumored some steep heather slopes on the northeast face.  We were blocked by a cliff band.  We found a steep class 3 gully.  I climbed up it.  Near the top was steep dirt and slippery pine needles.  I was glad to have numerous tree branches to pull on.  I was also glad that we had a rope, because it would be nicer to rappel this gully.  Mayumi and Brent followed up.

summit visible
summit visible
triumphant
triumphant
stoked
stoked
summit
summit

We traversed slightly on the northeast face and found the heather slopes.  They were very steep and minor wet mossy cliff bands ran through them.  We picked our way left and right and had to scramble up the far left side of the last cliff.  The final heather slope was the steepest and then we were on a northeast ridge right below the summit.  It was just a walk from there.  I found the register placed by Monty and we signed in, the first of 2016.

cliff band scramble
cliff band scramble
after rappelling
after rappelling
Brent scrambles the gully
Brent scrambles the gully
these smell good
these smell good
Garfield
Garfield
watching us
watching us

Navigating the steep heather slopes above cliff bands on the descent was a bit exciting.  You wouldn’t want to slip there.  Back at the gully I belayed Mayumi past the steep dirt and pine needles and then I rappelled it.  Brent felt confident that he did not need protection, so he pulled my sling and scrambled down himself.

Revolution summit
Revolution summit
a last look at Russian Butte
a last look at Russian Butte
nice light
nice light
sunset
sunset
lights in the cities
lights in the cities

Back at Revolution Peak we parted ways briefly so I could go up to the summit for a last look at Russian Butte.  The sun was low in the sky and the light on the mountains was beautiful all around.  We made it as far as Thompson Point before dark.  Then down along Granite Creek we startled a bear which had climbed a tree to get a better look at our headlamps.

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http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=25744
http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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Mike Collins
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Mike Collins
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PostMon Jul 25, 2016 2:47 pm 
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Strong work on one of the more challenging for routefinding Homecourt Peaks. The Dreisbach route has danger.  I ascended that very exposed route but descended to the Pratt River for my exit and then forded the Middle Fork. You guys took the scenic route. My total time for Russian Butte was under ten hours via Gifford Creek in the shortened October days. I took Gifford Creek until ~2,200 and exiting when a cairn appeared on the left.
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Fletcher
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Fletcher
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PostMon Jul 25, 2016 3:38 pm 
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Damn... And I thought our 18+ hour day last week was long..
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Yana
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Joined: 04 Jun 2004
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Yana
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PostMon Jul 25, 2016 4:32 pm 
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That is a long one indeed. dicey and I did it in the spring some years ago - I think snow makes a lot of the terrain a lot more manageable/accessible, and the going faster.  But you don't ever have to go back now.  wink.gif

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PLAY SAFE! SKI ONLY IN CLOCKWISE DIRECTION! LET'S ALL HAVE FUN TOGETHER!
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6098 | TRs
Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostMon Jul 25, 2016 4:44 pm 
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22 hours eek.gif . Perhaps your partners should sign an indemnity waiver at the trailhead (just kidding). Your experience and that of others doing this in one day confirms that for me it was the right choice to overnight at Thompson Point on the way in. It was still a really long day starting there.

When I went up last year I was really disappointed to not find the old register in a glass jar. I looked for it for almost 30 minutes before giving up. This peak is climbed so rarely that it's hard to believe someone who got all that way would destroy an original register, assuming someone did. Anyway, I'm glad to see the new one is being signed by such deserving climbers.

I must have found an easier way up through those cliff bands on the NE side because I only had one spot with a 6 foot step with never any thought that I'd need a rope. But it is a little complicated in there -- I gained the summit ridge well north of the high point.

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Mid Fork Rocksflickr
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TBrent
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TBrent
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PostTue Jul 26, 2016 1:02 am 
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Excellent trip report as always.

Thank you for helping us find the way to the summit of Russian Butte!

It truly was a suffer fest, and I am still tired.
Here is the gps track of the day for now. Pictures to come later, sleep now.

gps track Russian Butte


In an attempted to add to this trip report.

Water, last water source is not long after the Thompson Lake trail junction. There are very few and small snow blocks left on the NE slopes of Revolution.

Bugs!    They are far worse in the area between Revolution and Russian Butte than about anyplace I have been to in the PNW. misquitoes, biting knats, horese flies.


https://goo.gl/photos/BdbfBafZqdkwPhcy7

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"try not, do or do not" Yoda
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awilsondc
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Joined: 03 Apr 2016
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awilsondc
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PostTue Jul 26, 2016 6:28 am 
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Wow, that is a looooooong day!  Nice work on such a rarely climbed summit!  up.gif
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Brushbuffalo
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Location: there earlier, here now, somewhere later... Bellingham in between
Brushbuffalo
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PostTue Jul 26, 2016 7:10 am 
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Impressive work! An ultra day   cool.gif
Thompson Point cabin
Thompson Point cabin

[/quote]
I'm curious about thus cool-looking old cabin. Any details about it, anyone?

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Hikerdood
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Hikerdood
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PostTue Jul 26, 2016 8:03 pm 
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The cabin was built in the 90's. Just recently sold to DNR. They are trying to figure out what to do with it. I have been there numerous times now.
It used to have a very nice roof on it, which half of it is now down the side of the mountain. With the roof like it is now, it can only be a matter of time before the environment destroys it...
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Hikerdood
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PostTue Jul 26, 2016 8:07 pm 
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Actually I think Forterra bought it.
http://forterra.org/editorial/ridgetop-in-middle-fork-snoqualmie-valley-unmasked
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Brushbuffalo
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Brushbuffalo
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PostTue Jul 26, 2016 8:24 pm 
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Thanks for the info, hikerdood.
( dumb question but I assume you mean the 1890s?)

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6098 | TRs
Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostTue Jul 26, 2016 8:51 pm 
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No, 1990s, fairly recent. Forterra bought it but plans to turn it over to the DNR. Many inholders have a troubled history with the DNR so won't sell to them directly. I really need to write up what I've learned about this cabin on my website. It keeps coming up over and over. I doubt it will be there for too many more years -- it doesn't make sense any more without road access -- maintenance is impossible.

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Mid Fork Rocksflickr
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mayumi
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mayumi
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PostThu Jul 28, 2016 12:20 am 
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Thanks again Gimpilator. We enjoyed all that Type 2 fun. My muscles have recovered but I'm still covered in itchy bug bites.

After looking at the pictures one more time, it appears you entered the wrong date in the summit register - you entered August 24 instead of July 24. Did you do that intentionally so that we'd have a reason to go back, to correct it? Brent is already planning the next trip out there. I think I would sit that one out   biggrin.gif
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RichP
sin rumbo



Joined: 13 Jul 2006
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RichP
sin rumbo
PostThu Jul 28, 2016 9:24 am 
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Congratulations on getting that one. Sometimes the little peaks are the ones that kick your butt.  wink.gif
I like Monty's idea of camping on the ridge if I ever get out there.
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