Trip Report    

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Chair Peak/Northeast Buttress

Conditions were "in" for this climb. The climb is not over until you get back to the cars!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Light rain/mist on the way, then turning to snow.  So light you really didn't see it.

    The track up from Source Lake was decent, we followed a skin track most of the way up to the thumbtack.  From there we went left under the cliff band, the skin track went up to the steep gully straight ahead (carrying skis).  We beat them to the trees at the base of the route. 

    There was enough snow that we climbed unroped with snowshoes almost to the base of the climb, just before the ice gully.  There was no lower rock to skirt that you see in most pictures of the start.

    Rappel stations were the usual,  there is some word going around that you don't need a two rope rappel on the first rappel anymore because someone added a midlevel station.  I didn't see it on the way down, nor on the way back up to get a rope unstuck, or on the way down climbing and I was looking for it.

    Make sure you down climb the section after the last rappel all the way!  Read my report below.


Gear we needed: 5 screws (adding a stubby or two might have helped also), three pickets (we had one, there was a mix up on who was to carry the other one and still needed a third.)  We had zero places for any rock pro- not even pitons on the way up.  Rock gear never came out.)

We originally had 4 people scheduled for the climb, but one dropped out from illness.  With three, we decided to caterpillar the pitches.  We had one 60m and one 70m rope.

1st pitch - was fairly short, up to the tree anchor and the ice was firm.  The lead on this route was cautious and thorough on the pro placement.  We lost some time in this section.

2nd and 3rd pitch - we simil-climbed these.  There was little, if any (meaning none), available protection for these two pitches.  The first 100 ft has a small tree (dead, 3-4" dia.)  that I threw a sling on just to make the followers comfortable and placed a picket when I started running it out and being about 20-30 feet below the rock.  The rock appeared to have viable Ice, I moved up.  After three tries without success getting a screw to go more than a couple of treads in, before bottoming out on the rock, I kept moving and found a spot to get a marginal screw placement.  I progressed up to the bottom of the ice wall and made a two-screw anchor. We lost a little time on the series of ice screw attempts.55C2919A-5EC6-4489-BA9F-AB9310A59DEB (1).jpg


4th Pitch- I sent the lead up with the 70m rope hoping that he would find some pro available, but the rocks on the left were completely snow covered, so he climbed up the snowfield to the end of his rope and built a deadman anchor there.  With only 60m between the following two; we had to simil-climb the last 10m.  If you do it this way make sure your last climber is solid.  We lost time at the ice wall.  Rope coiling problem and slow climbing, slow transition.

5th Pitch - I lead the last pitch, no pro until the first group of trees, the snow above was good and the cornice well formed, so I continued up and over the false summit to the gully before the summit block.  There was a small bush/tree that I used as an anchor, but with the rope going up and over the false summit I could have used a seated hip belay.The "tree" anchor is between us

Summit block - was climbed without ropes.  We had been climbing all day in the clouds with blowing spindrift and just before we headed up to the summit the clouds parted above us to a beautiful site.P2220031.JPG

First rappel- this is a double 60m rappel. Slow rappel by one climber using a MegaJul,  He could only move about a foot at a time and would bounce on the anchor and entrenched the rope into the cornice.  Be careful of entrenchment with the rope cutting through the cornice; we had trouble pulling the rope from the start, even with all three pulling hard.  After we got the knot through the entrenchment, the rope got stuck in a small crevice on the rocks going around the corner (keep them separated), the rope was binding on each other, coming and going, and I knew the knot would not pass if the rope were this tough to pull.   I had to climb up and free the rope and the knot, and then downclimb back to the next rappel station. Much time lost.20200222_163211 (2).jpg

Second rappel- rope coiling problem again (time wasted). MegaJul climber didn't have the Megajul set up correctly and had to spend time resetting.  Also, clipping both sides of the knot on an extension would bind the carabiner and made it difficult to set up the system  (you DON’T need to and preferably shouldn't clip both sides of the knot! It causes far too many issues to be of any value) and then a long time MegaJul rappel.  It was getting dusk by this time.  When I pulled the rope from the last rappel both the other climbers already had their headlamps out, one on.

Because of the lateness of the hour, some poor decision making on my part things deteriorated. The takeaway is- don’t cut over too soon, to gain an advantage over not having to over downclimb, then climb back up to your gear.  Take the time to follow the route and stay safe.  (see my safety report for further info about the rest of the trip)
Left cars about 7:00am, returned 11:00pm

Code for the photo below:
Snowshoes = Maroon
Start of our climb = Black
1st = Green
2nd-3rd = Mustard
4th = Blue
5th = Yellow
Traverse = Purple
Fall = Red

Chair Peak fall detail.jpg