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Trip Report    

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Observation Rock/North Face

One day climb of Observation Rock/North Face.

  • Road rough but passable

Group met slightly before 6am.  Discussed possible route conditions, distributed group gear, and started hiking at about 6:15am.  Made it to the clearing at about 7:30am. While in the clearing, spotted two black bears just off the trail.  Made it to the established campsites at about 9:30am. Topped off water and stashed unnecessary hiking boots and other gear.  Gained the ridge from camp and traversed toward the base of the route.

Split into teams, spread out across the North face, and started climbing at about 11am.  Completed the route in four pitches on average. Two teams completed the route in a little more than three pitches and one team completed the route in a little more than four pitches.  NB: the team that started farthest climbers’ left had the shortest climb while the team that started farthest climbers’ right had the longest climb.

The first pitch was fairly mellow.  While we built and belayed off an anchor, it could have been simul-climbed.  The second pitch was a little steeper and required more technical skill (i.e. kick, kick, swing, swing).  The third pitch was more of the same. The fourth and final pitch was the steepest, possibly approaching 50*.  The ice was firm and, in parts, dusted with snow. Rock protruded the route in various places, and there were openings in the ice that required navigating.  Given the firmness of the ice, only ice screws were used. Overall, the teams moved at a slow-to-moderate pace, with the last team topping out after four hours of climbing.

The party decided to forego heading to the true summit, and, instead, traversed around Observation Rock to meet up with the trail on the Southeast side.  Given the lateness of the season, much of the descent route was melted out so the party descended most of the way back to the established campsites on earthen trail, with some hard snow and ice crossings across Flett Glacier.

We collected our belongings, topped off water, and headed back to the trailhead.  Reached the edge of the clearing before venturing back into the forest a little before sunset, and took a short break.  While resting, a black bear wondered past and onto the trail in the direction the party was heading. We decided to give the bear a few minutes before starting hiking again.  Got back to the trailhead using headlamps. In total, the climb was about 14 hours car-to-car.

It was a beautiful, bluebird day and an excellent ending to the summer!