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Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Yellowjacket Tower/East Flank

Successful summit. This was the second year in a row I have done this one, and there have been a couple changes along the route worth noting. 1. There is a sign at the start of the climbers trail to aid in locating the trail. 2. The tri-cam pocket for the final move seems to have gotten larger and needs a brown, or possibly a blue tri-cam to protect that last airy move!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • I did this climb as a mentored climb in 2016 so this is my second trip.  It is a good climb to test the metal of a new set of climbers

    Drive in:

    The group met in Monroe at 5:00 AM, and were boots on trail at 7:30am. Drive distance was 92 miles.  And the parking area is 6.1 miles from the Hwy 2/Icicle road as advertised. 

    Approach:

    The approach is pretty straightforward.  As you cross the bridge, bear left and take the first trail to the right that goes directly towards the peak in the distance.  There is now a sign posted to help find the start of the trail, and not end up in someone backyard!  

    The walk up the hill is steep and direct – little in the way of navigation challenges – just keep going up and bearing towards the peak.  The main gulley very loose and sandy.  Rock fall is a real danger - lower climbers should stay out of the fall zone.  It is also good to travel in tighter groups to prevent rocks that are dislodged from gaining speed before they come in contact with a member of their team.  We set a hand-line for the traverse above the chock stone at the gulley entrance.  Make that call based on the comfort of your team. 

    scramble to the right to get around it, then traverse across the gulley using a handline if needed

    We did put in a hand-line in one of the steeper sections and belayed up people who were uncomfortable with the ascent. 

    The hidden gulley is easy to find.  It is right next to the chicken head wall which is easy to see/find.  As noted this leads to the bottom of pitch one.  We set a hand-line here as there are a few tricky moves.  There is an overhang section in the gulley that is easier to cross if you bypass it by backing up 6 feet and using a crack on the left side to gain the edge.  From here you can scoot around the overhang and get back into the gulley above it.

     Climb:

    The climb is very straight forward with lots of places to put in pro.  We used a lot of natural pro.  Also a few larger to mid-sized nuts, mid-sized cams are good for this section.  There is a nice area between the first and second pitchs to stage your climb team.  A safety line is recommended.  The second pitch is short and straight foreword.  The last 1/3 of the pitch has little to hold onto and feels quite "airy".  There is only one place to protect the last move, and it is a very obvious "pocket/hole" about 6 feet from the summit.  It is worth noting that many of the beta sites recommend a pink or red tri-cam for the pocket, but it would appear that the pocket has been gouged out over the years.  A pink or red tricam will not set.  The brown tricam works if placed sideways, but it is kinda sketchy.  I would recommend a blue tricam to see if that works.

    Not a good placement as it overcams when loaded.  Perhaps a blue tricam?

    The summit is small.  You can get two on there if you are comfortable with close contact and exposure.  We sent people up one at a time on a top rope.  Taller people will have an easier time with this than shorter people in my opinion.

     Decent:

    It looks as though he rap tree has moved from a somewhat sketchy tree at the top of the first pitch, to a better one next to the second pitch.  It is a much better option to use this tree for the rap - although it is very vertical so if you have nervous students, they may not like it.   I had not used this rap route so to be safe we did it as a double rope rap.  This was more than enough rope to get us down the face, and most of the way down the gulley to the start of the hidden gulley.  I do believe though, that a single rope rap would have gotten us to the start of the first pitch where you could either set up a new rap, or scramble down the hidden gulley depending on the confidence of the team.  Pulling the double rope rap was extremely difficult and took body weight to get it moving.  If I were to do this again, I would use a single rope rap off the top from the tree, land at the bottom of the first pitch, and then do a rap off the side of the hidden gully to the bottom of the hidden gully.

    Once in the gulley, there are 4 rap stations that you can use single ropes to bounce between.  We used 3 of the four.  At a minimum I would want to use the first, and last rap stations and scramble the middle sections.

    Not to beat a point too many times, but the potential for a fall in the loose sandy, rock impregnated gullies is very real.  It is also very likely to knock down rocks on your party.  I recommend staying to the sides when climbing down as the gullies act as funnels and push rocks towards the middle. 

    Oh yeah, we had a goat join us.

     

     

     

 

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