Trip Report    

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Chair Peak/Northeast Buttress (winter)

A fun ice climb on a beautiful day.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The route is generally in good shape.  There is a layer of unconsolidated granular snow distributed over the terrain to varying depths.

It was a beatiful winter day, with clear skies and a NWAC avy forecast of green/low. Our party of four snowshoed out of the parking lot at 5:30 a.m. and got to the base of the climb around 8:30 a.m. We generally followed Rob Busack's terrific route description.  We climbed as two rope teams and swapped leads.

Because of the good conditions there were several other groups climbing the same route. Fortunately everyone cooperated and there were stretches where teams climbed side-by-side or took slightly different lines. The worst part was that belayers were sometimes treated to showers of snow and ice debris from multiple climbers.

The climb went smoothly, without any serious issues. The trickiest part was the ice step on the fourth pitch, which contained a lot crumbly, aerated ice. It took several tries to get good screw placements for the anchor, and some excavating to find solid locations for crampons and picks.

We eventually outdistanced the other parties and had the summit to ourselves, arriving around noon. We belayed a sixth pitch from the false summit to the true summit (about 50 m) because the snow conditions made the final slope feel insecure. The clear sky provided amazing views in every direction.

On the descent we used the existing rappel station, which was a bit of a rats nest but appeared to be solid. The rappel started off over a large cornice; we shoveled out a passageway to make the rappel easier and safer. After the double-rope rappel we downclimbed back to our cached snowshoes and headed out. We were back to the car by 4:00 p.m.

Gear notes: We used a few pickets, a few ice screws, one small nut, and one small cam. We brought a lot more but there wasn't any place to use it.