Lundin: Brush-Bashed and Bivied

The actual climb of Lundin (Snoqualmie Pass) went well but multiple factors contributed to our unplanned, but suffer-free, bivy in Commonwealth Basin.
David Shema David Shema
May 26, 2015

Lundin Peak, Aug 2

Our plan was to hike in via Cave Ridge, climb the West Ridge, descend by rappelling via the East Ridge, and return via Commonwealth Basin where we had left a car. The actual climb went well, but several things contributed to it taking longer than expected which resulted in an unplanned overnight bivouac in Commonwealth Basin:

  • Some of the basic students were not comfortable with exposure on the scramble sections so I fixed hand lines which took extra time.
  • We spent some time waiting out a thundershower and  additional time waiting for the rain clouds to dissipate enough to give confidence that the weather would remain favorable.
  • There were route-finding issues resulting in going the wrong way before finding the second pitch.
  • One of the two rope leads who had signed up for the climb had cancelled so we had three basic students, an intermediate student and myself. Having one less rope lead made it take longer to set up and take down hand lines and rappels.
  • On the hike down Commonwealth Basin one student was slow due to his being uncomfortable on the terrain. The descent was free of snow and from the base of the East Ridge there was a stretch of moderately steep gravel and scree descending 1,200'. Our party was able to plunge-step and descend briskly except for the one student who was only able to take small tentative steps in spite of coaching. This same student was also slow crossing the boulder fields.

At around 1:30pm I had explained to the students that it was late in the day to be starting the climb. We could turn back or we could continue and complete the climb but if we did so we would be hiking out with headlamps and returning to the trailhead at a late hour.

All were enthusiastic about continuing, especially the two students for whom this climb was their graduation climb. I knew that there was the possibility that we would not make it to the trail before dark. If not for the forecast for high temperatures and clear conditions for the next several days I would not have considered continuing.

It had taken longer to complete the climb and rappel off of the ridge than expected. Truth be told, even without the slower student we might not have made it to the PCT before nightfall. We went as far as we could until around 8:30pm when it was apparent it would soon be too dark to bushwhack safely. We found a relatively clear flat area in the trees and after refilling water bottles we hunkered down for the night. The warm windless night made for a relatively suffer-free bivouac.

At 4:30am it was light enough to travel again so we brush-bashed our way to the PCT and hiked out.

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Cebe Wallace
Cebe Wallace says:
Fri, Jun 19, 2015 11:09 AM

Take a lesson from this:
Non-climbers have exaggerated notions of the dangers we face, hence are likely to imagine the worst. Best not to promise the folks at home you'll return by a certain time. Also best to let them know that stuff happens but it's rarely tragic. I had a deal with my wife that she wouldn't worry until noon the next day.