Forum Index > Trip Reports > Glacier Peak Wilderness Mountain Massacre July 5-14: Part 3 of 3
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 1708 | TRs
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors
PostWed Jul 19, 2017 8:39 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Note: If you haven't seen parts 1 or 2, see them here and here respectively!

This is part 3 of my trip report for our Glacier Peak Wilderness trip.

July 12th Day 8
After successfully making the long traverse to Flora the previous day, we planned to pack up and over Martin Peak to Holden Pass for this day. I dreaded once again continuing up another burned valley with numerous deadfall, however linking up the logs, as we had been doing prior really paid off and I didn't have to crawl over and under quite as many. It still took awhile, and we only managed to find the trail for very short 30-40 foot segments where there weren't many trees for the fires to burn. We eventually made it to the head of the lower valley where we entered a large beautiful meadow, and since we actually were able to utilize the trail, we decided to make things easier for us and take the switchbacks up to Hilgard Pass, then cut sharply left along the gentle ridge towards the East face of Martin Peak. The alternative was to head straight up the steep slopes west towards Martin Ridge, but when faced with the option to have a nice switchbacking trail which may add a little distance, versus steep scree with packs on, we chose the former. Besides, we knew the distance we had to cover today would not take all day and we had plenty of time to spare.

We reached Hilgard Pass around noon, and took a nice 30 minute lunch break, and eyed Martin Ridge. It looked gnarly and I was starting to wonder how we would ascend Martin Peak from the east side, when our only beta was some random guy who wrote a report that was literally just "follow the ledges...it's Class 4". Certainly confidence inspiring especially upon looking at the rock on Martin Peak, it was that classic orange schist...err should I say sh##!

Continuing on the east ridge over a couple small humps, we reached the snow leading towards the 8000 foot saddle on the north ridge. We made quick work hiking up the moderately steep snow (thank goodness this was all snow covered...the talus beneath the snow would have been total misery!) Once we reached the saddle, we put helmets on and I scouted around the north side of Martin, as I noticed the ledges on that side were not downsloping, however I quickly realized that I was going to get into Class 5 terrain on the absolute crappiest rock I may have ever touched (and I have a ton of experience on loose rock). Looking up from this tiny ledge I was on, weighting each foot and hand hold a very specific way as to not dislodge them from their spots that seem impossibly attached to the mountain, I saw a huge vertical cliff guarding the upper north face, and no ledge system around it. So I backtracked, back to the saddle, and at this point Josh had began to scout a route trending towards the NE face. A snow finger was still stretching up a steep gully on the NE face that we were able to use to access a series of downsloping ledges above. So we climbed in the moat of this snow finger, then traversed across it. Luckily the snow was soft so the 45-50 degree steepness wasn't an issue with just our tennis shoes. We reached somewhat more manageable ledges on the far side of the snow, and I saw what looked like a series of ledges, albiet totally covered in huge loose boulders and scree, that would take us around to the east rib. This rib then provided passage around the left side of the cliffs above, and to directly to the summit!


So we slowly continued upwards, gingerly scampering our way around large boulders we didn't even want to think of touching, and climbing sustained Class 4 terrain until we reached a nicer ledge where we could legitimately rest for a few minutes. We made sure to always stay out of one anothers' fall zone, because no matter how hard we tried, we still dislodged tons of rocks. One at a time, we went in segments until we reached the east rib, at which point the rock improved ever so slightly. It was just 150 feet more to the summit from here, and the rib dumped us right at the top. I was somewhat relieved to be done with that climb, as it was probably one of, if not the loosest 500 feet I have ever done. The one peak I have done that compares to it is Mount Alice in Alaska, but since I solod that I had much less to worry about regarding dropping rocks on my climbing partner.

After another nice 30 minute break on the summit, reveling in the views of Bonanza, we started down the West Ridge. Let me be the first to tell everyone reading this that the west ridge is not...I repeat, NOT loose! It is downright solid resembling that of perfect granite....when compared to the NE face  wink.gif

We actually had fun scrambling down the Class 3 and 4 segments of the west ridge and found the route very intuitive, which was nice because neither of us researched it at all (story of the trip really haha). The cairns on route helped a bit as well. The only annoying part was the final 300 feet down the scree to reach the first saddle before Holden Pass to bypass the cliff in the ridge crest. From that first saddle, it was an unfortunate circumstance that we had to re ascend 200 feet to go over the small hill to get to Holden Pass. Upon reaching the pass though, we found an amazing place to camp (that apparently Fletcher and Jake also used just a couple days ago). It was nice and flat, and we still had over 2 hours of daylight left. We had a nice dinner and went to sleep early. I really enjoyed the afternoon views of Martin Peak as we hiked into camp and recall it as a very aesthetic looking mountain. Unlike many people doing the Bulgers, I actually enjoyed Martin when it was all said and done.


July 13th Day 9
This was going to be the grand finale day, where we ascend Bonanza and traverse the exposed rugged ridge all the way to Dark Peak. We lugged the 50 meter rope and 5 cams the whole second half of the trip (after picking them up in Holden) for just the traverse to Dark Peak. We both had hopes of potentially making it back to High Bridge by the end of the day, but little did we know we were in for a surprise. We woke up at 5am and quickly picked up camp and started up the little trail leading up towards the Mary Green Glacier. We made it up to the waterfall slabs in good time as the sun rose over Bonanza, which was a stunning sight to behold. I took tons of photos. Copper Peak across the Railroad Creek Valley also caught my eye, as that is a peak I won't soon forget.

We scrambled up the waterfall slabs, which were way easier than Josh led me to believe, and roped up for the glacier. We ascended the glacier in one single push without stopping in about 45 minutes until the bergschrund, which was easily bypassed by stepping onto the rock just below it. The pre-existing tracks made things easier. I noticed that as we ascended the glacier, clouds began to engulf the summit of Bonanza, then when we crossed onto the rock, we became shrouded! I honestly didn't mind though as this was a nice break from the hot cloudless days we had every day since. I also knew it was just the morning marine layer extending a little further east than normal, and it would burn off later.

So in a near white-out, we scrambled straight up the upper rock face, trending left as we went higher and passing rappel slings along the way. I remember thinking "why would anyone rappel this...the loose rocks will get pulled down by the rope!" I thought it was only Class 3 as well, however to spice things up, we stayed on the rib longer than most people and I did some low 5th class since the basement rock was so good (even if it was covered in bits of scree). As we approached the summit, the clouds began to lift and when we topped out, they mostly cleared out! We summitted at 8:30ish and I told Josh we needed to stay on this summit for an hour and really enjoy it, since I thought we would have plenty of time. It was much cooler, and I actually put my coat on that I had lugged around the whole trip but never used.

We signed the register inside the ammunition box, and I thought it was funny that someone left gum inside! I really enjoyed the views of Glacier Peak which had clouds surrounding its lower slopes with the peak sticking above. We put on our harnesses and I gathered the climbing gear we brought and began the initial descent west, but it is only 50 feet down or so until we reached a sling and short rappel. I inspected it and deemed it ok to rappel from so we made a 15 meter rappel down to a small ledge, and I led a traverse/downclimb pitch on the south side of the ridgecrest connecting small ledges, and gingerly testing everything I touched since the rock was pretty bad. I placed three cams until I reached an excellent ledge to anchor myself with my last cam and belay Josh across. Just as he started traversing towards me though, one of the ledges he weighted exploded and he took a small pendulum fall, weighting my first cam I placed. I knew exactly what foothold broke too as soon as it happened because I was studying it extensively when I placed my foot on it. Some of his fingers also were cut up from when some additional rocks from above hit his hands. Luckily he was able to patch them up and continue, as it could have been a lot worse. I was thankful I placed a cam early on that traverse so his swing fall was minimal.

I led an additional two short traverse pitches that Josh was able to easily follow, the first one taking up over the crest to the north side, and the second being right along the crest across a couple au chaval knife edge spots! We then reached a spot we felt comfortable unroping and solo scrambling the rest of the way to the false summit of Bonanza. The rock quality improved slightly, and the climbing difficulty eased up a bit (although everything was wildly exposed). Upon reaching the slightly lower west summit, it was interesting to look back at the true summit. That traverse was so short in overall distance, but took us an hour to do!

I was surprised to then notice that there was a very long Class 2 descent down the north ridge of the false summit on large talus, which immensely sped up our progress descending to the low point on the traverse to Dark of about 8350 feet. Apart from one scary part, where dozens of car sized boulders moved regardless of what we touched shortly below the false summit, we made quick work to the low saddle between Bonanza and Dark hopping down Class 2 boulders. The views across to the SW summit of Bonanza really were awe inspiring. Just beyond the low saddle, the ridge narrowed up again, and we would spend the next 3 hours or so scrambling mostly right on the ridge crest, with deathly exposure on both sides, up and over Point 8580+ (which oddly enough is actually higher than Dark Peak). Everytime the ridge appeared like there would be a huge drop coming up, there would be some magical way we could just continue scrambling. Numerous knife edge sections, weaving around small towers and the occasional "sidewalk in the sky" were all had, adding to the beautiful fun. In fact, we only deviated from the ridge crest twice. The first time was after crossing over Point 8580+ by following a nice ledge on the east side of the ridge, then climbing steep Class 4 to regain it. This allowed us to bypass a distinct notch in the ridge halfway between Point 8580 and Dark Peak. The second time was right at the end of the traverse, right before we reached the easy class 2 terrain just before the summit of Dark Peak, where we connected talus strewn ledges on the west side to bypass a few gendarmes at the end of the traverse. Once we reached easy terrain, I was pretty mentally drained from dealing with so much exposure for hours on end. I was happy to have the easy 5 minute walk to the summit of Dark Peak at the end, and we topped out on Dark at 3pm.


It was a real thing of beauty, to have completed all the peaks we set out to do! I remembered looking from Bonanza at our whole route, and being so amazed as to how far we really came. We congratulated one another, and took in the views one final time. Looking down the Company Glacier and down the massive Company Creek Valley was a sight to behold as well, then we looking north, down the Swamp Creek valley, which we would use to descend...not knowing at the time it would put the bushwhack I did in the Pickets last year to shame. So...we began the descent, with high hopes of making it back to civilization for some real food. Alas, it didn't quite happen that way.

We did however make very quick time descending the Dark Glacier for 3000 feet to the 5000 foot meadow at treeline in the Swamp Creek drainage. The snow was perfect for plunge stepping down, and we were easily able to pick a route down skiers left side avoiding all the crevasses and staying on moderate slopes. Although my foot did slide out from beneath me a couple times...


We took one last look at the "larger than we thought would be" Dark Glacier, and crossed the marshy meadow to the east side and went for where Josh had a track pre-loaded in his GPS where we would catch a trail. At the north end of the meadow, we found no such trail, so we walked back and forth looking for it. When we never found it, I just started plowing through some short trees hoping it was just a little bit beyond the initial set of trees, then Josh mentions we need to go way to the right because there are cliffs and a large waterfall just below us. I was like "oh great" so I descend through some bushes to try and catch a glimpse of what lie ahead. I was dismayed as to what I saw...a 400 foot cliff as far as I could see on both sides stretching all the way across. Looking at the map, there is a small, but steep rib that somewhat bisects the cliffs, offering a passage to the slide alder fest that await below.

So I led a route traversing way to the right, and remember commenting "so much for getting back to high bridge tonight" and "if we can't find a trail down there we will be bushwhacking for the next 8 hours" etc. etc.

I located the small rib and began downclimbing very steep, bushy terrain constantly veggie belaying myself down. Unfortunately the cliffs continued across on the lower half of the way down, so instead of locating a route weaving through the cliffs, I told Josh we should just rappel off trees as it would be both safer and faster. So we donned our harnesses again and made two rappels down the moss covered rock cliffs by simply wrapping the rope around a tree, and got to a spot where we could finish the steep downclimb to the basin below. I didn't really want to finish the downclimb though, because descending through that 400 foot cliffy section was the easy part. The reality began to sink in that there was never going to be a trail, and we would have to miserably bushwhack the entire way out to the PCT, down the whole length of Swamp Creek.

Utilizing a downed log, we finished descending our way down to the basin, where we were bombarded with slide alder, sticker bushes, and about a dozen other bushes I couldn't identify. I actually walked backwards so my pack took most of the brunt, and simply lowered myself on veggie belays. Every step was a mystery as to where my foot would end up. Sometimes it was a rock and my ankle would roll, other times a deep hole, and if I was lucky it was a nice flat surface. It was very slow going. Once the terrain became flat, we tried to string together sections of grass and snow, but the inevitable slide alder could not be avoided, and we had to schwack through many hundreds of meters of it. We decided to cross the creek on a snow bridge to try our luck on the west side, but that wasn't really any better, so at the next (and what we figured was probably the last) snowbridge, we crossed back. I think the lowest point of morale was when we were deep inside a large slide alder field, with it towering above us and seemingly endless in each direction, and we come upon a stream crossing that we could not cross on a log or boulders. I had to remove my shoes, and continue to bushwhack, while trying to cross a large stream in bare feet carrying my shoes in my other free hand! Total ridiculousness! Josh didn't even bother removing his shoes and just waded through in his shoes. My feet were getting pretty raw though since they got wet descending the Dark Glacier, and now all this bushwhacking was giving the bottoms of my feet blisters. Once we passed that obstacle however, we saw some trees nearby!

We both knew the bushwhacking wouldn't be as bad under the forest canopy so we made a bee line for the trees. This helped quite a bit and our pace quickened, however we were still heavily bushwhacking...just not through slide alder. It was slowly beginning to get dark and we had to think about where we were going to camp, since we still had half the length of the valley to descend. Literally everywhere was covered in bushes, and under the trees there was still tons of downfall and small shrubs. I didn't want to put my tent on top of bushes where holes would get poked into it, so I urged us to continue on, hoping we would find something. Right at about 10pm (at this point just over 5 hours of bushwhacking from the meadow at 5000 feet at the base of Dark Glacier) it was barely light enough to see without a headlight, and at the exact same time, both Josh and I spot what we both immediately knew would be our campsite. Right at the base of two very large trees there was a nice patch of bare ground, right next to a small side stream. It was perfect! So we quickly put up the tent and cook dinner inside while laying in our sleeping bags. I didn't even put up the rainfly as I was to tired to, and I figured our low elevation would mean temps would be warmer. I didn't take any photos of the bushwhack section, but did capture one of the cliffy section where we did tree rappels. I think Josh got some photos of the bushwhack though...

The cliffy section we had to descend
The cliffy section we had to descend

July 14th Day 10
We had an amazing sleep that night as we were moving for over 16 hours that previous day. I decided we should get up early though, and try to make it out to High Bridge to attempt to catch one of the ferries back to Chelan. I really wanted to spend one day at home visiting family before driving back to Edmonton to work. So at 6am we got up, and continued down. The bush was not as bad since we were lower down, and in the trees much more, but we did cross the occasional slide alder patch where the avalanche chutes were located. Connecting ascending and descending traverses I was able to bypass some bad looking areas. We finally reach the point on Josh's map where we were supposed to cross back to the west side of Swamp Creek. Amazingly we found a huge log there, and shortly thereafter, we spotted the resemblance of a trail! Apparently a trail did at one point exist...I even spotted a very old downed tree that was cut with a chain saw at some point in time. This was exciting, as we were actually able to follow it for a solid 15 minutes until we came upon a large devils club field (just when it couldn't get any worse!) I decide to traverse up above the devils club, and upon looking at the map, I notice we can continue to the lower part of the north ridge of The Needle, and descend the rest of the way to the PCT on that ridge, away from the valley and creek.

This ended up working perfectly, and apart from getting stung by a wasp (can it get any worse?) we made it to the PCT! From there, we saw our first people in quite some time...and we hiked at a fast pace the 6 miles back to High Bridge. I can recall cursing the people who made the trail because it went up and down so much...like why couldn't they just make it follow the contours of the land better??

Anyway, at noon we made it to High Bridge, and Josh briefly tried to convince me we should start walking down to Stehekin and I was like "no...I would sit here for an entire day waiting for someone, or the shuttle bus to give me a ride before I start walking 12 miles of road!" So we waited for 2 hours until the shuttle bus came, I paid $8 in cash for myself, and convinced the driver to let Josh pay for his fare in Stehekin since he didn't have any cash. We also got to chat with a number of thru hikers, and ran into a team going for the NE buttress of Goode, who we were able to share some beta from our experience on that route last August. Once we got to Stehekin, I got lots of ice cream, and we caught the slow boat back to Chelan (which took soooooo long as I was starving my ass off), and once finally in Chelan, we jumped in the lake to clean off, and I ate 2 pizzas, 2 ice creams, and drank 2 beers before driving back to Renton.

Conclusion and other notes
All in all, despite the horrid bushwhack at the end, it was the best trip of the year for both Josh and I and had loads of fun. I really like these big trips where you can connect many peaks at once, and really be away from it all for a bit, totally self reliant, and having to deal and adapt with what the mountains will throw your way. I admit, I did absolutely zero research for this trip. My only knowledge of the routes up each peak, and the treks between them was what I had previously read or heard, or from some limited direct previous experience (I had been to Leroy Basin and Holden Before, but no where else on our route had I been before). Josh did a bit more research than myself, and strung together most of the route, but even in his research he only briefly glanced over other reports mainly just looking to see if a route would "go" or not. He also had some personal experience on other parts of the route, such as two previous failed attempts on Bonanza.

Our lack of research became apparent in three major places. The first being South Spectacle Butte, where we attempted the NW ridge, which didn't go as a scramble. Luckily it was only a 700 foot excess of gain and we were able to quickly traverse over to the standard SW ridge. Second, we both really had no idea how to climb Martin Peak from the east, but we found the way by understanding what the mountain had, and carefully picking a route. Third was Swamp Creek...but I don't need to elaborate more on that. The rest we just utilized the maps and what Josh had loosely planned out as a general route to follow. It was really fun tackling route issues as we went and making it all work with our collective mountain experience, and our ability to move fast on all types of terrain.

Gear Notes
For our gear, on the first half of the trip where we didn't carry the climbing gear, we split my Big Agnes 2 man ultralight tent (1.2 pounds per person), and a small stove with one fuel canister and small pot. We both wore only hiking shoes/trail runners to have comfort and flexibility allowing us to move faster. We are both comfortable on snow up to 50 degrees in our tennis shoes and we planned to be on most snow when it was soft. If it wasn't very soft yet (such as in the morning) we each had microspikes, which we both used a couple times. Our feet did get wet on the soft snow, but since we had breathable shoes, they dried out reasonably well. We both believe that for trips of this size, lightweight footwear is very important. In our opinion, mountaineering boots are a bad idea for these kinds of trips in the Cascades, where summertime temperatures are warm, and a considerable amount of time is spent scrambling on rock and hiking on easier ground. Your feet simply won't survive in heavy boots. We also each brought an ice axe and helmet, among our other personal clothing and food.

For the second half of the trip, we picked up our cache from Holden which included a 6.8mm 50 meter half rope, 5 ultralight BD cams from 0.3" to 1" sizes, 6 alpine slings, and ultralight harnesses, in addition to more food. This allowed us to make the traverse from Bonanza to Dark, although most of that traverse we solod.

I hope you enjoyed reading these reports, as I had fun writing them!

--------------
The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
SummitPost Profile
See my website at:
http://www.lemkeclimbs.com
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Ski
><((((>



Joined: 28 May 2005
Posts: 8152 | TRs
Location: tacoma
Ski
><((((>
PostWed Jul 19, 2017 9:19 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
nice work, gentlemen. up.gif

--------------
"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
zephyr
aka friendly hiker



Joined: 21 Jun 2009
Posts: 1549 | TRs
Location: West Seattle
zephyr
aka friendly hiker
PostWed Jul 19, 2017 10:08 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Another great report with excellent descriptions and photos.  Some of the story was hair-raising, and  the bushwhack through Swamp Creek was tough just to read.  After all that climbing and then the descent through the treed cliff, this must have been a tough moment. 
Matt Lemke wrote:
The reality began to sink in that there was never going to be a trail, and we would have to miserably bushwhack the entire way out to the PCT, down the whole length of Swamp Creek.

Such fortitude you two showed throughout the journey--high points and low points.  Thanks for sharing it with us.  Well done!  ~z


Note: Among many stunning scenes and action captures, I really liked these two. up.gif

Matt Lemke wrote:

Matt Lemke wrote:
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Malachai Constant
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jan 2002
Posts: 13318 | TRs
Location: Back Again Like A Bad Penny
Malachai Constant
Member
PostWed Jul 19, 2017 11:10 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Amazing series of reports up.gif  up.gif   up.gif .

--------------
"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Just_Some_Hiker
Member
Member


Joined: 02 Jan 2013
Posts: 466 | TRs
Location: Ronald, WA
Just_Some_Hiker
Member
PostThu Jul 20, 2017 3:32 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Josh looks like he's been hitting the gym. up.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 1708 | TRs
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors
PostThu Jul 20, 2017 11:07 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Just_Some_Hiker wrote:
Josh looks like he's been hitting the gym. up.gif

He definitely has been working on getting healthier! His pace has definitely quickened since previous years when we climbed together.

--------------
The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
SummitPost Profile
See my website at:
http://www.lemkeclimbs.com
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Glacier Peak Wilderness Mountain Massacre July 5-14: Part 3 of 3
  Happy Birthday outdoorgirl, wildernessed!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy