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Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Yellowjacket Tower/East Flank

Long day for a very short climb. Approach is very sandy and full of rock fall hazards. We found route finding to be a little challenging in places.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The route up to the chockstone gully is very straightforward.  From there it became a lot more sketchy with a couple scrambles with high consequence falls.  It took us a significant amount of time to find the best way around the chockstone.  We ended up going about 30 feet to the right of the stone, up 4th class scramble move, and over a very exposed and sandy slab to get on top of the chockstone.  We set up a handline on the slab for safety.  Above the chockstone we were unsure about which exact way to follow.  We were so worried about missing the "hidden gully" we probably went too far right, which led to another unprotected 4th/low 5th class scramble (going around the left side would probably be safer).  This got us to the bottom of the hidden gully.  The route description states that handline is "optional" in the hidden gully, but I seriously question that assessment.  This is a very high consequence fall area, with a 5th class move in the middle, and sandy ledges up higher.  I don't think there should be anything optional about a rope being set up for everyone going up.  It's not necessarily something you need to be belayed on, but having a rope for a prussik felt like the only safe way to get up there.  From there the climb to the summit is very straightforward, easy to protect and relatively fun.

    We did 3 raps on the way down - double rope (70m) rap from the summit the bottom of the hidden gully, single rope (70m) from obvious tree belay down to the gully, then we hiked down to just above the chockstone to another obvious tree belay (with slings) for another double rope (70m) rap.  The last rap can easily be done as a single rope, but having the extra helped move quicker on the sandy/slabby section below the chockstone.

TICKS TICKS AND MORE TICKS.  Beware of TICKS on this climb.  They're literally everywhere.  When I got to the anchor on the first pitch they were literally crawling on the webbing.

Other than the ticks, the approach is the worst part of this climb.  It is steep, sandy, full of rockfall, and other hazards (exposed scrambling). Route finding is challenging and the way you end up going feels like a lot for what's supposed to be a very easy basic climb.

We had an accident on the way down just above the chockstone as we were setting up our last rap.  A very large boulder (refrigerator size) has toppled over and crushed a foot of one of our climbers.  Thankfully we were able to rap down and walk out after the injury and came out of the incident relatively unscathed (crushing injury to the foot, but no broken bones).  That same boulder is now sitting precariously right on top of the chockstone, ready to fall after a good rainstorm.  Be VERY cautious going up the sandy gully below the chockstone, stay to the sides as much possible to avoid any falling hazards.

Better yet, just avoid this climb altogether.  It is very hard to call this  a fun climb between all the things that try to ruin it along the way.  The approach is horrible, the ticks are abundant, the pitches incredibly short.  The only fun part of this climb is the view from the top and the raps.  This is my first one-and-done climb - I have absolutely no desire to ever go back there.