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Intermediate Alpine Climb - Sherpa Peak/West Ridge

7/15/17 - Successful 3-day climb of Sherpa West Ridge

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Route was in great shape.  Didn't have to walk on any snow (crampons/ice axe not needed).  There is snow up to the Table Rock camp. But we had to walk about 100ft up from camp to find a trickle big enough to pump from.

Good thing we planned 3 days.  Wouldn't have made it in a 2 day trip.  4 of us hiked in on Friday 8am.  Road was closed 1.3 miles from the Ingalls trailhead.  Took us about 10 hours to get to the 7400ft camp.  Weather forecast was for 50s-60s.  We showed about 90 degrees going up the final approach from Ingalls creek trail.  Had to stop every few hundred feet to cool down and keep anyone from getting heat exhaustion.  Drank about a liter of water every 1000ft.  Missed a perfectly good trail from the meadows up the left side of the creek to 5800ft.  Beta from multiple places and gps tracks from PeakBagger said to get off the trail at the start of the meadow and traverse right to the creek and scramble up the creek to 5800.  It works but is completely not necessary.  Once you pass the little camp spot and the climbers trail at the start of the meadow that goes up, it will keep going up at about 5000ft.  We took this path which led us right and to the creek gully.  Instead there was a trail that hooked off left back into the forest and up the left side of the meadow and creek all the way to ~5800ft to a 4ft high cairn.  This branch off  the trail was overgrown with grass and brush and wasn't visible on the way up.  Once we hit 5800 don't go higher otherwise you kind of cliff yourself out and have to drop back.  There is kind of a climbers trail traversing around the ridge here.  Half the time you lose the trail.  Eventually you'll break out around the ridge and get a view of Sherpa and the boulder fields up.  Again, you might spot one or two cairns all the way up but we didn't find much in the way of any actual climbers trails, just figure your way up from the existing beta, its kind of obvious at this point.   At 7400 its hard to spot the Table Rock from below till you are right on it, or you get above it and can see it, once you see it, you can't miss it.   Got up at 6am for a 7am start.   Got to the base of the rock and started climbing at 8am.   We had decided on a relaxed pace since it was a 3 day trip and camp was just 700ft down.  It still took 7 hours to do the 6 pitches to the summit and 5 to rappel.  8pm back at the base and down to camp by dark.

Pitch 1 and 2 are pretty straight forward.   Its one of those climbs where you take all the beta and photos and still wonder if the sandy bench you are at is the sandy bench in the beta, and it sometimes isn't, or if the airy step is the airy step in the beta or one of the other few around you.  

We did figure out the easy way to do pitch 3.   Skip the 5.7 crack in front of you at the rap anchor, and don't go left to the chimney.   Go right into the big v shaped alcove and just go up the edge.  Not too hard.

Pitch 4 we figured out to walk around the corner easy enough but what looked like a couple airy steps ended in something that looked more like an airy jump around a corner with nothing to hold onto.  We opted to climb up and over to the top which was probably low 5th class instead, still not sure if that was the airy step in the beta.  Finally topped out and saw the scramble over to the base of pitch 5.  Most of this was easy walking, but it is pretty exposed on the last part getting to the base of pitch 5. Now that I looked back of photos others took of me scrambling over to the base of Pitch 5, I think that was the "airy step".  I had scrambled above it on the way in and over it on the way out.  That was easy enough to figure out.

Pitch 5 is rated 5.4 for the crux move.  Whoever rated that move 5.4 was a 6'5" monkey.  Consider that a 5.7 move.  One of our team bear hugged the 2 cracks and was able to muscle up it, another french freed it with a cam and a foot sling, 2 others were belayed up with a lot of help.   Stopped at a rap anchor thinking it was the top of pitch 5 but it was just an intermediate rap anchor.  So did another short pitch to the top of Pitch 6.  From here set a handline to the summit across the slabs.  Then belayed out to the summit register.

The raps down varied from some of the old beta.  1 single from top of pitch 5 to intermediate rap anchor, 1 single from there to base of pitch 5.  Exposed scramble and walk back to top of blocky area that over looks where we walked around the ledge at pitch 4.  From here is a rap anchor that you can see your packs at the base of the climb from.   From here we did a single rap down the north face (we had originally come around the south).  This gets you to an intermediate rap anchor were you are kind of hanging out in nowhere on the north side.  From here another single takes you back to the top of Pitch 2, had to stick in a cam on the side here to protect the traversing rappel from a pendulum and don't rap past this into a gully too low.  Pull yourself over the edge to the rap anchor.  Awkward but it goes.   Then from here a double gets you to the base of Pitch 1.

 

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