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Basic Alpine Climb - Devil's Peak/South Ridge

Successful Devil’s Peak/South Ridge adventure in complete whiteout conditions

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Snow is melted out on the approach to the basin. The basin itself is still fully covered in snow. Be aware of an interesting moat getting ready to be wide open at the base of the summit rock. We were able to negotiate it but that might not be the case in the next few days. 

Party of 6 approached and summited Devil’s Peak in complete whiteout conditions on Sunday, 5/20. Pouring rain while driving through Granite Falls almost convinced us to turn around after we would regroup at the trailhead however rain stopped by the time we parked our cars at the Deer Creek /Coal Creek Road junction and decided to give it a try. Hiking on the very wet overgrown Coal Creek road was not enjoyable and after 1 mile we decided to cut the first two switchbacks to make it to the third one. From the third switchback we pretty much followed a pre-identified NW bearing, while trying to avoid terrain traps until we got in the basin. Lack of snow on the approach to the basin forced us to deal with unpleasant BW3+. Once in the basin, we had continuous snow pack until we got to the base of the summit block. All the navigation was done in complete whiteout conditions – we didn’t see the summit block until we were ~250 ft below it. Team work while following pre-determined bearings in the whiteout and using GPS were crucial for successful navigation. Once at the base of the summit block, we could transition to a small snow free area at the main notch to harness and rope up. To get to the start of the actual technical climb we had to make a 15 ft snow traverse (leaders self-belaying/followers while being on belay) and then transition on the snow free short class 3 section to the notch at the beginning of the climb. We had two 60 m rope teams (1 rope lead / 2 followers each). First leader led to the tree with multiple slings, brought the followers (one by one) and then used the rope to setup a fixed hand-line from the tree to the summit to be used by the whole party up and down the second pitch. By the time first rope team was on the summit, the second rope team climbers made their way up to the tree with slings. All the climbers rapped from the tree using a 60m rope which had just the right length for manageable landing on snow while avoiding getting in the moat. Hike out was uneventful except ...more BW3. Rock was dry but climbing the class 4 section with wet boots and full day packs added a little bit of challenge for everybody.

Despite not great conditions and complete whiteout we had a great successful day filled with learning experiences.