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Deceptively Difficult
Trip Report

Deceptively Difficult

 

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 47.81310°N / 123.2335°W

Object Title: Deceptively Difficult

Date Climbed/Hiked: Jun 6, 2007

Activities: Mountaineering

Season: Summer

 

Page By: leftfield

Created/Edited: Jun 22, 2007 / Jun 22, 2007

Object ID: 303872

Hits: 1062 

Page Score: 0%  - 0 Votes 

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Deceptively Difficult

I'm sorry i'm not photo literate to help out with this report. I'll try and make the words work.

For the second highest mountain in the Olympics Mount Deception receives strangely little attention. Difficulty? Distance in? Reputation? I belong to the Mazamas, a climbing club in Portland, Oregon, and it has only been on our summer climb schedule 4 times in the last 26 years. As usual the Olympic guidebook is cryptic in its description and i got responses from the Summitpost forum that ranged from "a walk-up" to "taking your life in your hands".

What i did understand from attempting it in September of 2002 is that you need SNOW to give yourself a fighting chance of getting up it. Our party went in mid-June. The standard route seems to be to go to the Martin Peak-Deception saddle, cross the Deception Glacier, pass Gilhooley Tower and then roll on up a gentle ridge to the summit.

We (party of 6, all very experienced) sat at the foot of Mount Deception for a long while deciding what to do. The saddle between Martin and Deception seemed a long way to the north of where we were. We were also kind of seduced by the marked photo we had seen on this website that went left of a large rock outcropping and apparently directly to the summit (the NE Gully route). None of us had been there but me and we fell into the Great Unknown of a new mountain. I was no help because with a snow cover i hardly recognized the route. Eventually, splitting the difference between following a party in front of us who chose the NE Gully and our GPS readings, we went straight up the broad snowfield of the Northeast Face.

It wasn't bad at first but as well cleared the bottom of the rock outcropping that split the routes it steepened to what we were willing to call 50 degree snow. Throw in an ice patch and a cornice we negotiated at the top and it became a "sporting" route. If we had to do it over again.........hmmmmmm.

To our relief the advertised "easy scramble to the top" was right there as promised. No sign of the party of 3 ahead of us.

Nothing around where we had come up looked like a reasonable descent so we headed down the ridge to what we were now sure was Gilhooley Tower. Beneath it was a pretty steep snow chute but then the bowl of the Deception Glacier below and the obvious low point in the ridge beyond. However, there were cornices hanging off the ridge there as big as automobiles. We backtracked up the ridge a bit around the end of them and set a fixed line across the face below them to the snow chute. From there we dropped onto the Deception Glacier and it was easy going east to the backside of the Martin-Deception saddle.

Once we got there we found several steepish snow slopes to descend back to Royal Basin. But we also found a cairn and some 3rd class downclimbing on rock that led to gentler snow slopes. After all that (6 hours up and 6 hours down eventually) we were rewarded with above average glissading back to our starting point at the head of Royal Basin.

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