Forum Index > Trip Reports > West Twin Needle 8/20-21/22
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raising3hikers
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raising3hikers
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PostMon Aug 22, 2022 8:29 pm 
West Twin Needle 7936' For 3 out of 4 of us in the group, this was our 2nd attempt at this extremely trivial southern picket peak in the last month and a half! Backstory - July 2nd 2022 With a stormy July 3rd forecast, Fletcher , Josh and I had a plan to day trip West Twin Needle in the Southern Pickets. There's vague beta in the CAG and zero recent TR's we could find by doing the S face route. The FA party used the South route but where exactly is it? They did it in the 1930's and glacier decline since then has likely made it so much tougher to get up on easier ground. We left the TH around 2am and had to battle the roaring creek crossing in the dark which cost some time but that's why we started early. We made it to the below the Twin Needles and found the steep snow gully mostly filled in like we were hoping for. But, a huge chockstone and deep moat had to be bypassed so we hopped onto the nearby but steep rock. It was 4th/low 5th to scramble to get around and get back on the steep snow. We made it to dry ground under some steep and intimidating towers that definitely don't show up on the Topo map. In fact, nothing that we were on matched the Topo. We wandered around looking for good access higher and had some ideas but we wasted a bunch of time. We could see the thunder storms building all around and without a fast plan to get to the summit, we bailed 700' shy. It was the right decision and we got dumped on as we traveled the last few miles back to the Goodell Creek TH with lots of lightning above. It was over a 21 hour day to get skunked. The next day, Fletcher and I talked about what we saw and what we could do differently. We knew where not to go and had possible other route ideas to hopefully have success next year. We spent hours trying to figure out the puzzle we saw on this peak. Fast forward to this past week of August 20-21. I briefly mentioned to Fletcher and Josh that it might be nice to get a rematch on West Twin. To my surprise, they were in and Fred N was also intrigued by the idea. So, with our new plan, we set out on an overnighter instead of a day trip to maximize the difficult route finding on the South face. We left the TH ~ 6am on Saturday to high humidity, we were sweating like pigs on a flat approach trail to Terror Creek. It was an easy ford and we guzzled water on the other side and loaded up more for the steep climbers trail ahead of us. The trail is efficient and gets us up to mellower ground in no time. The humid temps were still dreadful and the clouds were still obscuring the views as we headed higher. Despite the heavier overnight packs and hot temps we made good time up to the alpine. It looked so much different without snow but lots of running water on the slabs. Fletcher mentioned that we should climb the Chopping Block before getting to camp. I was happy he said something since I was thinking the same thing! Since Fred did it a couple weeks ago, he'd rest while Fletcher, Josh and I would try to find the easy S route not wanting to deal with ropes to save time.
The Chopping Block/or The Stump/or Shark Fin
The Chopping Block/or The Stump/or Shark Fin
We traversed the green ledges to the S face which was easy. Then scrambled up the S face with a couple 4th+ class moves to get through. The Crescent Creek basin below the Southern Pickets were socked in but it was nice to be above the clouds at the summit. Some careful downclimbing in spots were needed to get back down and rejoined Fred to get the traverse to Crescent Camp.
Josh downclimbing on the Chopping Block
Josh downclimbing on the Chopping Block
The traverse to Cresent camp was kinda slow because the snow has melted and its a boulder and scree hike to it. We made it with lots of time left in the day and it was so nice to just chill and hang out in camp with these guys. Water and snow was nearby, the cloud layer went in and out, no bugs, great views, a nice relaxing place after a big approach. We went to bed after seeing a couple climbers descend from Terror around 930pm or so.
looking back at the Chopping Block/The Stump
looking back at the Chopping Block/The Stump
During the night, that cloud layer became thick. It began dropping light precip over the area and I could feel droplets through the screen on my bivy during the night. We had hoped on a sunrise start towards West Twin, but the socked in weather had us dragging a bit. We got moving around 630am towards the basin below our intended peak. The half mile or so was slow going over loose and rocky terrain. The visibility was very low and Josh decided he wasn't into it and I couldn't blame him. Fletcher, Fred and I put on crampons for the snowfield below West Twin. We hoped to find the waterfall route dry, which it was, but it would not go. It was our 1st and most direct option to getting back to where we were earlier this year. The moat was too far and extremely deep to risk getting to the dry falls. It was 50'+ deep and couldn't see the bottom. I had drawn up another but longer idea further left since I knew our big snow gully from before would be out. Fred and I headed left and saw some possibilities, as we headed down the snowfield, I saw one that might work. I called Fletcher and Fred up to check it out. There was a hidden gully above with a little snowbridge to access the rock! They were on board as it was a good chance to get onto the rock. Fred went first carefully downclimbing the steep snow on the moat side to some good rock. We were stoked to have a possible gully up. Fletcher and I followed and all 3 of us were soon climbing up the class 3-5 gully up higher. Nothing really exposed for 100' as we found ourselves below a gully where we'd want to rope up.
Fletcher and Fred scrambling up the gully
Fletcher and Fred scrambling up the gully
looking at our roped pitch
looking at our roped pitch
The next steep gully looked intimidating and Fred happily decided to lead the pitch while I belayed. Since we had 2 60m ropes with us, he thought a double rope pitch would be a good idea. We all agreed since there's zero info on this route. He easily got past the crux and placed a couple pieces of pro before making an anchor to top rope Fletcher and I. As Fred brought Fletcher up, I noticed that we were only a couple hundred feet below where we were in July. With as much time left in the day, I was getting excited that we could figure out the West Twin puzzle.
the scrambling ground of West Twin
the scrambling ground of West Twin
As I explored the way back to where we were earlier this year, Fletcher and Fred made a direct gully ascent to where we had been. It was good to know that there was multiple options to descend later. But still, to this point, we didn't see any rap tat, which was a little surprising. We looked up a steep and now dry gully that we had planned for a possible way up but it looked very ugly. Instead, We hugged a slabby gully that we couldn't get to last time because of thin snow and possible collapse. It was a mix between class 2 and 4 most of the way to the Himmelhorn/West Twin saddle. The scrambling was actually really fun at times unlike what we found before.
Fletcher with good ground ahead
Fletcher with good ground ahead
It was class 2 to get the summit from the saddle. Easy hiking to amazing views above the clouds! Overall, it was my 3rd attempt at this peak and it was worth it. We made it from camp in less than 4 hours, most of that time was spent on the traverse and looking for access to the rock. As I saw West Fury from the summit, I remembered Jake Robinson, who had done that peak with me a few years ago. Nothing but awesome memories from that trip. We soaked in those amazing views above the clouds for a while then heard some noise of some climbers that were on top of Himmelhorn. It was crazy to see another party on another pointy peak in the Pickets at the same time.
The Furies and Luna
The Furies and Luna
the Chopping Block trying to stay above the clouds
the Chopping Block trying to stay above the clouds
climbers on Himmelhorn
climbers on Himmelhorn
Fred
Fred
Fletcher
Fletcher
After a half an hour or so, we left the summit retracing our route. We only saw one previous tattered rap anchor the whole way along the slabs. So Fred made a new one on one particular steep spot we climbed up but didn't want to downclimb. The way down to the top of our roped pitch went well with more careful downclimbing. From there, we headed down a little more looking for a good anchor for a double rope rap to get us back on the snow. Fletcher boldly downclimbed and spotted a chockstone that Fred made a solid anchor with a great angle to the snow to help keep the knot from catching on anything as we pulled it down. It was great getting back down to the snow after the double 60m rope rap and we were soon cruising to camp to pack up.
Fletcher and Fred looking for the Rap anchor location
Fletcher and Fred looking for the Rap anchor location
looking back up at the confusing face of West Twin Needle
looking back up at the confusing face of West Twin Needle
green meadows on the way back to camp
green meadows on the way back to camp
While we packed up camp, Fred encouraged Fletcher and I to get out quick to secure food in Marblemount before things closed. Fletcher and I hit the descent hard, lost the trail a couple times but made good time back to the TH. We made it in time to eat dinner at the new Up River Grill in Marblemount. The food was great and we were also able to order food for Fred right before the kitchen closed.
The Southern Pickets
The Southern Pickets
West Twin Needle is one tough peak to figure out! Thanks guys for the trip 21.25 miles 9500' elevation gain (including chopping block) 2 days

Eric Eames

RichP, contour5, pwrobinson, geyer, ozzy, hikergirl1234, SeanSullivan86, rubywrangler, freddyfredpants, Off Route Randy, rstoddard24, Silas, belowfellow, LukeHelgeson, ONELUV1  Gimpilator, awilsondc  ~*CutebutChossy69*~
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Fletcher
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PostMon Aug 22, 2022 10:31 pm 
Such an amazing trip! Will post my pics when I have time later on.

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iron
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PostMon Aug 22, 2022 11:34 pm 
that is one challenging looking peak! you sure it's the right one? register??? moon.gif moon.gif

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freddyfredpants
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PostTue Aug 23, 2022 8:49 am 
Really happy about this trip. Probably one of my favorites this year. Here's a series of images in order of increasing stoke.

Nancyann, geyer, Silas  ~*CutebutChossy69*~, awilsondc
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rstoddard24
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PostTue Aug 23, 2022 2:01 pm 
Thanks for sharing - awesome trip. The pic of climbers on Himmel[geister]horn is really awesome!! We climbed himmelhorn a few weeks ago and its a really special summit - so cool to see from this perspective

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Matt
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PostWed Aug 24, 2022 4:02 pm 
thank you for an interesting report and beautiful photos for a rarely visited peak.

“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Prosit
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PostWed Aug 24, 2022 6:51 pm 
iron wrote:
that is one challenging looking peak! you sure it's the right one? register???
Worth a thousand words
Worth a thousand words
From this TR: https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/104546-tr-s-pickets-himmelhorn-wild-hair-crack-08202022/ Well done guys.

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Brushbuffalo
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PostWed Aug 24, 2022 10:45 pm 
Eric, for you to say it was a challenging peak to figure out speaks volumes. I'll have to ask Steph how she and Wayne W. descended after their FA in 2009 of the ice route on the north side. They probably did a bunch of raps straight down.

Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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ozzy
The hard way



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ozzy
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PostThu Aug 25, 2022 5:48 am 
Siccckkkkk buddies! rocker.gif Congrats on another gnarly one! Such a rugged area back in there, it must be if it took Eric 3 times to get her done lol. The chopping block looks sweet too! Badass TR! cheers.gif

“I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames”-Mr Mojo Risin
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Brushbuffalo
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PostThu Aug 25, 2022 7:57 am 
Quoting from Steph A's report on her website of the June 27, 2009 FA of 'Thread of Ice' ( couloir on north side between the Twins) with Wayne Wallace: "For the descent, we had planned on going down the 1932 gully scramble route described in CAG. However, I think we took a different gully system down. The descent involved the usual amount of tedious downclimbing and rappelling." She mentions one rappel from a chockstone, which might partly explain the apparent scarcity of rap tat. I will update this when I hear back from Steph.

Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Fletcher
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PostThu Aug 25, 2022 9:18 am 
Yeah BB, Eric and I both read that TR after our July attempt. They must have descended a variation of our route. Judging from a few of the photos in that report, it looks like they came down a gully that we considered climbing on this attempt, but it looked like a bunch of 5th class stuff when it was completely melted out this time around.

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Brushbuffalo
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PostThu Aug 25, 2022 10:02 am 
Fletcher, here is what Steph wrote me just now: "We scrambled and rappelled down some gully. Typical N Cascades shenanigans that most of my partners in Colorado can't comprehend". https://sites.google.com/stephabegg.com/washington/tripreports/twinneedles In her TR she had this comment of a photo of the approach to the Otto-Himmel col: "Looking up the south side of the Otto-Himmel col on the approach to the climb on Day 2. Later in the summer, the col poses more of a chossy challenge." One needs to be aware that Steph does rough terrain at an other-world level. smile.gif

Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Fletcher
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PostFri Aug 26, 2022 9:15 am 
chopping block
chopping block
southern pickets
southern pickets
camp
camp
from snow to rock
from snow to rock
up into the light
up into the light
typical terrain low on the route
typical terrain low on the route
Himmelhorn
Himmelhorn
Fred with the northern pickets
Fred with the northern pickets
epic
epic
Spickard
Spickard
heading down
heading down
Looking back
Looking back

Lightning_bug, Nancyann
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Nancyann
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PostFri Aug 26, 2022 12:48 pm 
Holy God, your video is terrifying and amazing at the same time, what an accomplishment for you guys, and the music is perfect! up.gif

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Stefan
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PostMon Aug 29, 2022 11:27 am 
looks fun. cool stuff you guys!

Art is an adventure.

awilsondc
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