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Trip Report    

Argonaut Peak/South Route

My favorite kind of alpine experience: snow climbing with a rock finish, no cairns, no boot track, no climbers trail, all adventure!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

Trip Date:  5/29-30 2016

Party Size: 5

Day 1: Departed from Beverly Turnpike TH at 2:15 PM. Trail descending from 5500' saddle to Ingalls creek (north aspect) is still at least 50% snow covered . Rest of the trails were snow free. Scooted across Ingalls Creek on a smooth log, a' cheval style.  We were all  glad we did not have to ford the creek.  5:30 PM we arrived at a spacious established camp area adjacent to Ingalls Creek Trail,  a few minutes west of where the trail crosses Ingalls Creek.


Day 2: Left camp at 5 AM and ascended through forest, eventually making our way to the central gulley on the south side of Argonaut. No difficulties navigating brush, never more than a 50' traverse through slide alder - I'd give it a BW-1 on a scale of 1-5. Entered the central gulley on snow at about 6700' geared up with harnesses, crampons, ice axes and helmets.  Ascended moderate slopes to about 7400' just below  where the snow steepened to perhaps 40 degrees for the next several hundred feet (600'+).  Top couple inches of snow was very hard - it took lots of effort to bust through with the spike of the axe - too hard to kick steps or self belay.  There was about zero percent chance of a successful self arrest on this snow.  Thus, at 9 AM we started climbing on a running belay with 5 of us on 1x30m + 1x 40m rope. Lead climber placed pickets in the snow and rock pro on the sides of the gulley to provide a running belay. One reset and 3 hours later we were all at the top of the snow. From there it was a quick bit of kitty litter rocky gulley scrambling, over a ridge of snow and we were at the base of the chock stone gulley. Lead climber lead 50' up to the rap anchors and belayed everyone else up with the remaining rope. From there it was an easy scramble to the summit where we enjoyed grand views in all directions. Departed summit at 1 PM. Snow was still very hard, so we used the 40m rope to setup 40m single strand rappels.  Last person cleaned anchor,  down climbed on belay with two axes and the protection of one picket en route to the next rap anchor. We did 3 rappels (one natural anchor, one snow anchor, and one rock pro anchor). After the third rap, we agreed that the snow had softened sufficiently and uniformly enough to down climb face-in with self belay, eventually transitioning to plunge stepping. By 5 PM we were off the snow and booking it back to camp. 6:15 back at camp. 7 PM at the a' cheval Ingalls creek log crossing. 9:45 PM back at the trailhead. Very competent group.


Gear Carried: 40m rope and 30m rope. Cams #0.3-#2, set of DMM Walnuts, pink and black tricam, 2xcordalettes, 2 pickets, lots of alpine draws


Gear Used: All of it.


Ideal Gear on this Day: 2x60m ropes and several additional pickets would have made the snow ascent/descent more time-efficient. Single runners were not very useful - had to use two+ at a time to make long enough for running belay.


Note: Total elevation gain for this trip is far greater than the 4,853' net elevation gain listed in the Mountaineer's route description. Looking at a map, the total elevation gain is at least 7600', much of it achieved without the benefit of a trail or climbers path.