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Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Yellowjacket Tower/East Flank

Overall great climb, resulting in 3 basic students getting their first successful rock summit. Despite threatening weather forecast, we enjoyed mostly blue skies and moderate temps.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • No snow anywhere on route, but plenty of loose rock. Approach trail clearly defined, and well-marked with cairns. Only aspect of routefinding that may prove challenging is finding the start of the hidden gully, but luckily we had no problems there. We scrambled  up to a minor pass on the east side of the gully to take in the view, and looking back west the hidden gully was quite obvious.

Started hiking at 5am and had no trouble picking up the trail almost immediately past the bridge. Made decent time up to the start of the main gully, where we put on helmets. We were able to navigate fairly easily to the right of the large chock stone. After reentering the gully and passing under some fallen trees, we were able to find the hidden gully. Didn't use ropes until this point, but here we made the hidden gully our first pitch. I liked this approach, as there was plenty of room there to get everyone set up, and good trees to hang packs. We also had one student fall on a tricky spot, which would have had more severe consequences if they weren't on top rope.

When I was belaying my follow from on top of the dihedral (our second pitch), we had cold winds pick up and hail come down. Forecasts leading up to the climb had chance of rain ranging from 10% to 40% in the days before, and luckily this was the worst of the weather we experienced, and it didn't last long. The hail was a nice alternative to rain as the rock stayed dry. On the final pitch, a brown tricam works well as the last opportunity to place pro, but really it's not that much higher than the last horizontal crack. Set up a top rope for the summit due to limited space at the top.

We did a double-rope rappel down, which got us all the way back to our packs. From there we did a single rappel to get us into the main gully, and then scrambled down to just above the large chock stone. One more single rappel to get past the chock stone, and then a short scramble had us done with main gully. Lost some time on the descent with slow scrambling.

Got back to the cars around 4pm, making it an 11 hour climb. Saw one mountain goat and lots of wildflowers.

Had one big technical slip-up leaving behind a gear anchor below the summit pitch. This anchor was set up by first rope team, and left for second rope team to use. Second rope team assumed third rope team would use as well, but didn't. Lesson learned: when leaving something behind that you just used, make it very explicit as to who is cleaning it. Thanks to Rob Holman for retrieving this gear on the climb he led two days later!!