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Trip Title: Guye peak south rib
Author lee coutermarsh
Date March 01, 2003
GuideBook brown beckey
Owned By leejams
Mountain Elevation Summitted
Myself and Brian hench were going to meet another fella at the cabin to practice some ice climbing on ice I had found on guye back in January. By 8:30 we decided the other fella was a no show and headed up the sahale ski slope. Brian headed up first as I had to put on my crampons which attach to my snowshoes. Somehow we got split up and I went to the south rib toe where I had found ice earlier but now found none. He had gone around to the south gulley and being on two different sides of the rib could not hear each other. Eventually, we found each other and I informed him there was no ice. We both had plenty of rock,ice gear and headed up the gulley. What followed was 8 leads to the top and 4 rappels down, and a car to car 16 hour epic. I will just touch on the finer points of the trip.
First pitch was Brian's and we strapped the snowshoes on our packs. At this point we still had our crampons on and we could see the large tree we needed to get to. He started towards it but then decided to downclimb and go the other way. He dissapeared up and around. While belaying I found it interesting listening to the sound rock and snow chunks make coming down from up above. Sounds like missiles. Okay now my turn to follow. I quickly found out 5th class climbing in crampons and a full pack is a different ballgame indeed.
We swapped leads Brian doing 1,3,5,7 and me getting 2,4,6,8. Somehow, I ended up getting the crux of the route and I think pitch #6. Not a hard move and probably 5.6, but with full pack and rope drag at this point I belayed Brian up. Just as he was getting to the tiny ledge I was anchored into half the ledge just fell away under my heels leaving me with just my toes touching (very scary) and glad he was up here and not below me to catch that. He agreed on the crux move and he suggested I try it without the pack and we could haul them up. Without pack/rope drag no problem and Brian soon followed. But of course the packs with snowshoes,pickets etc... caught on everything but we prevailed and continued on.
Around pitch #7 the lights of all the ski areas now far below us came on and the view was awesome. At this belay station it was right on the edge of the west face and I could see the wac cabin, the semi's going up I-90 and skiiers looking like a little toy world. I was standing there belaying and wondering at what point did we decide to climb the entire rib?
And then still continuing up and finally crested up over the summit just as the sun set. The alpenglow was so intense at this point and the sunset was unforgetable. Now the bad news. It is getting dark and we found out there is NO easy way off that Mt. as it is a multitude of small peaks. We decided to keep going north and ended up just below the north peak. I knew if we could get up this last pitch it is a walk off down to cave ridge saddle and down around. However, we both decided it unclimable and found some rap slings in the col. We decided to rap down and check out what is below. I later found out from the beckey guide the correct descent is this 1 rap and then climb back up to a col on the other side to reach the walkoff to the saddle. However, now being completely dark and our headlamps only going so far we didn't see it.
The rappel's down into the black abyss not knowing if the rope even touched below us was scary to say the least. And of course now the rope was frozen as well. At one nice cave we found I kinda hinted we could bivvy till daylight? Brian stated "we could" and then did one more rap over the edge.
The crux on the descent was on the last rappel? we ended up in a vertical ice/snow chute with nowhere to set up another rap anchor. This is where I was so glad to have both my ice tools. This had to be downclimbed with no rope. . But as it was all solid ice at this point I actually felt comfortable on it with both ice tools and front points. Plus I am actually glad it was inky black below me cause then I couldn't see! Another cool part of getting down in the dark of night was the sparks that would fly off your crampons while rappelling. To cool.
After that last downclimb to a bench we decided to keep frontpointing down as it seemed to be mellowing out which it did and eventually turned around and started plungestepping. Then we found the wonderfull snowshoe tracks leading out of commonwealth basin. Reached the car around 1 a.m.
All in all a great trip. I was glad to have Brian as a partner as he has a bit more experience than me. This is a great practice route (in the summer) and is stated as such in the beckey guide. However, every time I stand in the wac parking lot and look up that rib I will have a much greater respect for that little Mt. Most importantly we made it out safely, which is probably one of the reasons it took so long. But we both agreed on the drive back home. Better safe than sorry.
Items we took and used, full rock rack up to 2", lots slings various sizes, 9.9 60M rope (2 50M ropes would have been better), crampons, 2 ice tools, snowshoes (could have done without). standard winter warm clothes and extra.
Items we took and didn't use, about 8 various sized ice screws (take 2), a couple pitons, 2 snow pickets (take 1),