Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mount Ballard East Face - May 18 2019
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 1897 | TRs
Location: My van
Matt Lemke
  Top

High on the Outdoors
PostMon May 20, 2019 10:37 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
On a last minute whim, I took a flight back to Seattle for the weekend again after working the last week in Tucson. I called up Josh and asked if he wanted to do Ballard and he agreed to so I bought the flights right away. It was yet another night flight arriving in Seattle around midnight early Saturday morning. I took an Uber back to my parents house and borrowed my sisters car for the weekend, got to Lynnwood to pick up Josh around 1:20am and we were off to Bellingham to pick up my skis. It was occurring to me I would be climbing yet another peak without any sleep!

We drove over to Mazama, and found a spot to take a 1 hour nap in the car. By 7am we started driving up the Harts Pass Road. We were able to drive up to an elevation of 5250 feet, stopping about 3 miles from Harts Pass due to a deeper snow patch covering the road in a low rider vehicle. High clearance 4WD vehicles were getting up another mile or so, to within 2 miles of the pass. We saddled up with skis and started walking shortly before 8am, hoping to be able to ski down the road on the opposite side of the pass a bunch. We made quick work walking the first 3 miles to Harts Pass, which we were able to find mostly bare ground along the edge of the road. Once at the pass at 6200 feet, there was 2 feet of snow on the ground, contrary to ranger reports stating there would be 4-5 feet. We switched into our ski boots and put the skis on, and after a quick snack we started skiing down the road heading down into the Slate Creek Valley on the west side of the pass.

Unfortunately we would only get about a mile, back down to about 5200 feet before the snow disappeared, and we ditched the skis. For the next 4.5 miles, the walk on the Slate Creek Road down to the gate at 3800 feet was quick and dry. A fair amount of debris and trees/rocks was on the road so if anyone plans to drive down this way shortly after the snow melts, bring a chainsaw and an attitude for ground clearing.

We continued the additional mile (about 9.5 miles total from the car) beyond the gate, curving left towards the south as the old road continued a gentle traverse to the bridge over South Fork Slate Creek at 4000 feet. This bridge at some point had been rebuilt directly over top of the old bridge. We stashed our overnight gear here as it was only noon by this point and we knew we would have plenty of daylight to make it up and down before dark.

Starting out from where we parked
Starting out from where we parked
Walking up the road to Harts Pass
Walking up the road to Harts Pass
View hiking down the Slate Creek Road
View hiking down the Slate Creek Road
Road closure gate at 3800 feet
Road closure gate at 3800 feet
First views of the slopes of Ballard
First views of the slopes of Ballard
Bridge over South Fork Slate Creek
Bridge over South Fork Slate Creek

We crossed the bridge and left the old road, entering the open forest making an ascending traverse southward towards the large flat basin at 4900 feet at the base of the large gully dropping down from the col just north of the lower north peak of Ballard (which is the peak that's incorrectly labelled as Mount Ballard on the USGS maps). There were two streams in close proximity to one another we had to cross over slippery logs along this traverse through the forest at about the 4600 foot contour. At 4900 feet we emerged from the trees into the basin and scouted out the route ahead. Using Matt and Dicey's report we easily located the route up towards the small flat spot at 6200 feet on the east ridge of Ballard. We booted up really good snow through trees for 400 feet until reaching the open slopes on the east slopes of the mountain, and made an ascending traverse towards the 6200 foot bench. We were making great time, having reached this spot on the ridge at about 2pm. Views were getting better and better as we ascended up the ridge continuing on good snow until the terrain steepened at around 6900 feet.

Josh crossing one of the two streams
Josh crossing one of the two streams
View of Ballard from the 4900 foot basin
View of Ballard from the 4900 foot basin
Tatie Peak across the valley to the east
Tatie Peak across the valley to the east
This gully sure looks inviting, but would lead you to the lower N peak
This gully sure looks inviting, but would lead you to the lower N peak
Starting up good snow
Starting up good snow
Traversing the east slopes
Traversing the east slopes
View east
View east
Headed for 6200 foot bench on east ridge (visible at center left)
Headed for 6200 foot bench on east ridge (visible at center left)
The Needles? to the south
The Needles? to the south

Since the snow appeared very steep in the 7000s elevation range, we opted to climb class 3 and 4 dry rock on the ribs and blocks between the snowfields. This was possible up to an extent, however at around 7300 feet, we were forced onto a large 45 degree snowfield to weave through cliff bands and much steeper sections, zig zagging our way up, mostly angling leftward until we reached the upper part of the east ridge at about 7650 feet where the angle eased significantly down to the 20-25 degree range. However this lower angle section of the route for the next 400 feet to the 8150 foot col would prove to be the most taxing, as I was sinking to my knees or more post holing through deep snow. Since I was out ahead feeling fairly strong, I ended up breaking most of the trail on the upper route. We finally reached the col immediately below a small rock spire just north of the true summit of Ballard. Here we rested briefly, and was mesmerized by the view we had to the west. All of the North Cascades were visible, with peaks like Goode, Mesahchie, and Eldorado easily picked out. Even Baker and Shuksan were visible through the perfectly timed passing clouds.

View of Ballard from the ridge at 6200 feet
View of Ballard from the ridge at 6200 feet
View north of Tamarack Peak (center right)
View north of Tamarack Peak (center right)
View south towards The Needles
View south towards The Needles
Josh ascending the ridge
Josh ascending the ridge
Josh scrambling up one of the rock bands
Josh scrambling up one of the rock bands
Class 3 scrambling
Class 3 scrambling
Avoiding the moats!
Avoiding the moats!
Class 4 section
Class 4 section
Mount Ballard
Mount Ballard
Pasayten Bulgers, Robinson at center right
Pasayten Bulgers, Robinson at center right
Nearing the 8150 foot col
Nearing the 8150 foot col
Jack Mountain
Jack Mountain
Jack and Luna
Jack and Luna
Mesahchie, Logan and Forbidden
Mesahchie, Logan and Forbidden
Josh happy to be at the col
Josh happy to be at the col

We crossed over to the west side of the col, and followed a beautiful ledge around the small tower, and continued right to the base of the summit pinnacle. Due to the recent storm, the scramble was covered in wet snow, making the difficulty significantly harder to climb. I initially continued traversing south until reaching a tiny notch, which blocked any further traversing, then scrambled directly up the west face for maybe 40 feet of class 3-4 until reaching a small ledge. Here, I traversed back north all the way to the north ridge and climbed a low 5th class step requiring me to stem out wide on small ledges. Above that it was another bit of 4th class to the summit. Every little ledge was wet or partially covered in melting snow requiring extra caution, but nonetheless, I found the scrambling fun. Unfortunately though, with Josh being in his ski boots (I had leather hiker boots) he wasn't comfortable making the exposed scramble with stiff plastic boots. I had to enjoy the summit alone. This summit was easily one of the best summit views I have seen in the Cascades, but that is partially owed to the amazing photographic lighting we experienced. Shortly before 5pm, I stood on top of one of my final P400 top 100 peaks, on a trip back to WA that was truly last minute (I leave for Indonesia tomorrow!).

West side of the summit block of Ballard
West side of the summit block of Ballard
Summit Pano
Summit Pano
Black, Glacier Peak and Goode
Black, Glacier Peak and Goode
Josh traversing towards the summit block
Josh traversing towards the summit block
Another view of Jack
Another view of Jack
Ballard North Peak from summit
Ballard North Peak from summit
Tower, Golden Horn and Azurite (This one is my favorite!)
Tower, Golden Horn and Azurite (This one is my favorite!)
Summit pano with Azurite on left
Summit pano with Azurite on left
Inspiration Traverse peaks from summit
Inspiration Traverse peaks from summit
Logan and Forbidden from the summit
Logan and Forbidden from the summit
Traverse to Azurite
Traverse to Azurite
Looking down the route I scrambled to reach the summit
Looking down the route I scrambled to reach the summit
Summit block view as I descended
Summit block view as I descended
This route on NW side of summit block was likely easier
This route on NW side of summit block was likely easier
Me thinking I'm cool.....(I'm not)
Me thinking I'm cool.....(I'm not)

By 6pm, Josh and I started to make the descent back down, which we made very quick work descending the snow. We decided to plunge step down the snow more, and avoid the class 3-4 rock steps we scrambled on the way up. Still, rather than descend down a section of 50 degree wet snow I opted for a different rock rib. We met up with our ascent tracks and continued down. The snow improved and I was able to do my trademark flying leaps (running down with plunge stepping the steep snow slopes with ~10-12 feet between steps) just as fast as Josh was able to glissade! Literally, it took us about 10 minutes to descend back to the 4900 foot basin from the 6200 foot bench on the east ridge, a drop of about 1300 feet. I don't think I could have even skid it that fast!

Josh making a step down as we head back to the col with Ballard behind
Josh making a step down as we head back to the col with Ballard behind
Afternoon sun hitting the west side of Ballard
Afternoon sun hitting the west side of Ballard
Traversing back to the col
Traversing back to the col
Pasayten Peaks
Pasayten Peaks
Small tower just north of Ballard
Small tower just north of Ballard
Josh at the col
Josh at the col
Descending the upper ridge
Descending the upper ridge
Steeper snow at about 7200 feet
Steeper snow at about 7200 feet
Back on the lower ridge near the 6200 foot bench
Back on the lower ridge near the 6200 foot bench
View again from the 4900 foot basin
View again from the 4900 foot basin

The rest of the hike back to the bridge over the South Fork Slate Creek was uneventful, and we even got back to our overnight gear before dark, so to get a head start on the next days' long walk back we walked the road back to the closure gate before setting up the tent, eating some Oreos and hitting the sack.

Sunset on Tatie Peak
Sunset on Tatie Peak

At 5am or so the next morning we got up, packed up and were moving by 5:50. We walked back up to Harts Pass, with the last mile or so being the most miserable as we had to pick up our stashed skis, then walk with them the 3 miles back down to the car. Moral of the story is that skis were not needed on this climb...there simply wasn't enough snow. By 10am we reached the car and started the long drive back. I was even able to make it back to Renton in time to meet up with my visiting cousins from the eastern US.

Map of our route
Map of our route

Only Liberty Cap and Castle remaining (among dozens of other climbs I still want to do), however those will have to wait until I return from Indonesia in the end of June.

--------------
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 Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Josh Lewis
a.k.a. Josh Lewis



Joined: 01 Nov 2007
Posts: 4647 | TRs

Josh Lewis
  Top

a.k.a. Josh Lewis
PostTue May 21, 2019 8:32 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Despite not making the summit this was a fantastic trip! I've soloed things like the NE Buttress of Goode, low 5th with icy ledges and fresh powder; however this was a bit spicier than usual. To make matters worse there was some confusion on my part when I was advised to take a lower ledge (there were two, I took the one slightly lower). After throwing a dozen boulders down and meticulously edging my way in ski boots followed by an extremely dicey section with no holds I felt that it was time to bail. Even a 1% chance of a fall is far too great. I'm bold but I ain't that bold.  lol.gif

Harts Pass road Views
Harts Pass road Views
Hiking to Harts Pass
Hiking to Harts Pass
Blow Down beyond Harts Pass
Blow Down beyond Harts Pass
Almost to the Bridge
Almost to the Bridge
First Major Opening
First Major Opening
Steep Snow to the Col
Steep Snow to the Col
Summit Block
Summit Block
Ledge past the Col
Ledge past the Col
Azurite Peak
Azurite Peak
Mount Logan area
Mount Logan area
Steep Summit Ending
Steep Summit Ending
Baker and Shuksan
Baker and Shuksan
Jack Mountain
Jack Mountain
Snowfield Peak Area
Snowfield Peak Area
High Above the Valleys
High Above the Valleys
Washington Pass Area
Washington Pass Area
Gloomy Weather to the East
Gloomy Weather to the East
Deep into the Mountains
Deep into the Mountains
Harts Pass Snow Depth
Harts Pass Snow Depth
Walking Down...
Walking Down...

--------------
Strap in. Phun Ahead
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
Jake Robinson
Member
Member


Joined: 02 Aug 2016
Posts: 384 | TRs

Jake Robinson
  Top

Member
PostTue May 21, 2019 8:47 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
You guys got some great photos! I loved the views up there. Thanks for the conditions update too.
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
neek
Member
Member


Joined: 12 Sep 2011
Posts: 801 | TRs
Location: Seattle, WA
neek
  Top

Member
PostTue May 21, 2019 9:10 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
right on  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
Mike Collins
Member
Member


Joined: 18 Dec 2001
Posts: 2617 | TRs

Mike Collins
  Top

Member
PostTue May 21, 2019 9:37 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Josh Calico wrote:
edging my way in ski boots followed by an extremely dicey section with no holds I felt that it was time to bail. Even a 1% chance of a fall is far too great

You made the right decision. You would do more than chip a tooth on a fall with this peak. In my writeup I described "...ledgettes with fingertip holds on Class 4 rock."
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
Nancyann
Member
Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2013
Posts: 1597 | TRs
Location: Sultan Basin
Nancyann
  Top

Member
PostTue May 21, 2019 9:51 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Thanks for the conditions update. Beautiful late afternoon pictures! Glad you made the right decision to turn around, Josh.
Have fun in Indonesia, Matt, sounds like a great adventure!
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
Stefan
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Dec 2001
Posts: 4496 | TRs

Stefan
  Top

Member
PostTue May 21, 2019 12:09 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Does anyone know of the road and conditions down to Chancellor?  Does it require a 4WD vehicle?  Only motorbikes?  Only bikes?  I understand you would know only from last year.  Just trying to gage access to Chancellor. Thanks!

--------------
Art is an adventure.
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
Brushbuffalo
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Sep 2015
Posts: 1376 | TRs
Location: there earlier, here now, somewhere later... Bellingham in between
Brushbuffalo
  Top

Member
PostTue May 28, 2019 12:44 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Stefan wrote:
Does anyone know of the road and conditions down to Chancellor?  Does it require a 4WD vehicle? 

Stefan, when I was down the road last fall to hike to Cady Point, the continuation of the road to Chancellor was blocked by a sturdy locked gate.

--------------
Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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
Brushbuffalo
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Sep 2015
Posts: 1376 | TRs
Location: there earlier, here now, somewhere later... Bellingham in between
Brushbuffalo
  Top

Member
PostTue May 28, 2019 12:53 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Excellent sport and report, gentlemen!
From reading other accounts and seeing your pictures, I wonder if snow covering the loose rock makes this climb easier and safer.. Of course, that ease could be cancelled if recent snow is on the summit block such as you had.
You are right, you had fantastic lighting for super pictures.

Let's see.... long flight, long drive, very little sleep, long climb, Oreos for dinner, tiring hike back out, long drive again, then LONG flight to Indonesia,....
The climb may have been the easy part!
( nice ski boot tan, Josh.  wink.gif  That from Sherman Peak a few weeks ago?)

--------------
Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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: 1897 | TRs
Location: My van
Matt Lemke
  Top

High on the Outdoors
PostWed May 29, 2019 2:10 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Brushbuffalo wrote:
nice ski boot tan, Josh.  wink.gif  That from Sherman Peak a few weeks ago?)

Yeah it was. ..i have the same tan lol!

I haven't lost my ability to run on no sleep just quite yet! 😅

--------------
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 Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mount Ballard East Face - May 18 2019
  Happy Birthday elkendo, nuclear_eggset!
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