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Trip Report    

Observation Rock/North Face

This climb took place on Sat, Sep 06, 2014.

The ice is in on O Rock!

Left the TH at 4am. Another Mountaineers group from Tacoma wanted to book the trip on Saturday but couldn't because we had already done so. So they opted to go as a "private climb". Hence the super early start. Took just under 3 hours to reach the base of the climb by headlamp via the standard approach. The early hour made for cool hiking and the morning alpenglow was glorious! Roped up and climbed the route in four pitches.

The lower pitch took one (1) picket with a LOT of pounding. Pretty much all ice screws the rest of the way. You had to dig quite a ways to get a good placement but it could be done. The route was in great shape. I was glad I had everyone bring so many screws (8 per team) as we were able to do a great job protecting the route and made great anchors. If anything we brought too many pickets but we used them especially at the top of the climb where it was STILL took a major pounding to sink them in deeply enough.

The last pitch was super fun, steeper and with exposed water ice. The ice was brittle and easily fractured but plastic once you chipped away the outer shell. It had a tendency to dinner-plate if you didn't clean it up first. In places it was shallow but the picks of the ice tool seated well and in general offered solid front pointing. The top pitch is supposedly 50 degrees which felt about right but some of the icy areas bulged out somewhat and made for super fun climbing. I was (intentionally) climbing to the left of the route, just right of the exposed rock bulge. It's steeper here and I am told the ice is thicker. The other groups were climbing on the right but where it was supposedly less steep near the top and the ice thinner but I suspect it was no less challenging.

We climbed the route in four FULL pitches. The first three were uneventful and easy. The first pitch was pretty much a walk-up with good cramponing. We anchored the bottom of the fourth pitch just below the steeper icy section at the top of the climb. The last section was a full rope length with just enough for an anchor on the bench but it was pretty tight.

One of the climbers had been feeling poorly during the day and the group was moving slowly. I was pretty worried about this person and it was getting late so we opted to bail on tagging O Rock itself and call the ice climb a good day.

We returned via the lake which was very cool. It was getting warm and everyone loaded up on water for the return hike home. Spray Park was beautiful with lots of flowers and even more friendly people all curious about what we had been doing that day.

Long day... 14H RT.