Panoramic View of Summit

Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Chair Peak/Northeast Buttress

no snow on the climbing route! :>)

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

a very political peak. that i have to climb right before each presidential election. in 2012, max led me up the east face. in 2008, i ascended via the south shoulder with jt and the beste-man. this time we elected to caucus on the north east buttress. i was a little unsure, as this was my first ascent attempt without barack obama running for president.

quick and dirty route description: hike snow lake trail to source lake trail junction, take right fork, following trail above source lake, go a little past creek and look for faint climber's path above, the path leads to the stream gully climber's left. above stream gully, climber's right side of the wall above(evergreen branches aid the ascent), provides access to upper basin. ascend past the thumb tack and up to almost the east face. do not get suckered into ascending the ne buttress too early. when you are at the east face, look up and climber's right and an easy class 2/3(with route-finding) gully, attains the ne buttress. rope up at the base of the right slanting chimney, (pitch 1 - full 60m - class 4 with a move or two of low 5th)climbing it to a tree/rap station. scramble class 3 rock for about 60m, staying a little, but not too far, climber's left of the ridge, to an established(slings around rocks) belay/rap station. rope up again. it looks like you could do a climber's left traverse pitch to a gnarly tree, but we again chose to be staying a little, but not too far, climber's left of the ridge,(mostly 4th class, but a couple of low to mid 5th class moves) to yet another established(slings around rocks) belay/rap station, that is near the top of the skyline. leave rope, scramble along ridge to false summit then traverse over to summit(class 3).
descent: scramble back down to last roped pitch and do double 60m rope rap, then scramble class 3 down to the rap station at the trees at the top of pitch 1. from there double 60m rope rap, reaches the base of the climb. the gully that ascends to the ne buttress can be rapped, but if you look and route-find, it is easy class 3 to down-climb. retrace steps to car, or to return via the snow lake trail: descend down and skier's left, look for cairns and the climber's path that descends east to the snow lake trail.

the original plan was to take advantage of jenn's monday of and for the two of us to lead a mountie climb of chair via the ne buttress. for the approach, we took the old source lake up, but the stream was flowing in the gully, so we were forced to ascend climber's left of the gully into some brush for 15 minutes. jenn figures any trip with me, i am going to find her some brush :>) we eventually get out of the brush and back into the gully and find our way into thumb tack basin below chair peak.

we go up 50' or so toward the ne buttress, when it dawns on me we started up too early. oh well. there were a number of spots that look like it would be good to attain the ne buttress, but most of them are not good ideas. we kick steps up snow, almost to the east face and then it is obvious where to go - up a short class 3 gully(if you are bad at route-finding, it would be class 4).

since we were a party of three and since jenn was the strongest climber, she took her rack and did all the leading, bringing both cody and i up at the same time on two ropes. cody turned out to be super nice and moved well. jenn, of course is awesome, so it was a really great crew, excepting myself :>)

we have, what would prove to be, really good beta for the route and we start climbing at the right slanting chimney. jenn cruises her lead, placing the occasional piece of pro. we follow and i wonder whether i would have been comfortable leading it. although it did not get more difficult than low 5th, there was not a lot of pro. from the top of the first pitch, it is a very fun 60m of scrambling up to the second, which is the last, pitch of rock climbing. i thought we would need to traverse over to the gnarly tree, that i had reached when max and i did the east face four years ago, but the lead climber makes that decision and jenn thought straight up was better. traversing looked easier, but might not have been. jenn again cruised her lead straight up and we followed. this time was also mostly class 3/4, but with a couple of low to mid-5th moves. at the top of that pitch, i am pretty sure we don't need the rope anymore, but i wanted to double check. so i made them wait, while i scrambled up five minutes to check it out. we then scrambled to the summit and had a nice break.

we did a double rope rap a full 60m from the top of the last belay station and i pulled the ropes, after i got jenn and cody out of the fall line. there was not much rockfall when i pulled the ropes, but i did it as far out the fall line as possible just in case. we then scrambled down to the tree/rap station at the top of the first pitch and did a double rope rap down the chimney. i had a choice of staying in the chimney or dropping down the north face, but i chose to stay in the chimney, as i was not sure how the snow and/or the moat would work out. i was worried about rock fall and the rope getting stuck, but again the rope pulled free and rock fall was not bad.

we down-climbed from the ne buttress and descended east, following cairns and trail over the snow lake trail, back to the car and then stopped for a leisurely dinner at the north bend b&g with smiles on our faces :>)

we found water everywhere we wanted, including a few feet below the ne buttress

no snow on the climbing route! :>)

8.05mi 3388' gain
3:24 car to base of climb
2:39 base of climb to summit
0:30 summit stay
1:44 summit to base of climb
0:21 pull ropes, rest and put stuff away
2:43 base of climb to car
11:22 car to car

equipment: ice axe, two 60m ropes, helmets, harness, rack
equipment brought, but not used: left the crampons in the car

references: - worthwhile info

Chair Peak/NE Buttress Approach Map

top/last pitch diagram:

first pitch: