Notes on the Beckey Route from July 2009I intend for the notes below to supplement a more complete route description. References are to the standard 4-pitch version in Beckey’s CAG. We made 3 pitches.
Approach. The climbers’ path that branches east from the Blue Lake Trail now passes through a big avalanche scar opened during the 2008-2009 snow season.
Pitch 1. The tree on the ledge at the start of the climb is dead. One can climb pitch 1 on blocks to climber’s right of the easy chimney; the difficulty is perhaps 5.4 on clean rock. Protection requires stoppers smaller than BD 6.
Pitch 2. A party of two can climb standard pitches 1 and 2 as one, belaying at a tree near the top of the second chimney. Doing so requires a 60-meter rope and good rope-drag management. Double-length slings help. The chimney on standard pitch 2 is much easier if your summit pack is compact and narrow.
Pitch 3. The belay at the top of standard pitch 3 is on a flat landing at the base of Beckey’s “70-degree white friction slab”. This slab is a short climb above a well worn turnoff (to climber’s right) for a walk-down route to an important rappel station. Try to make note of the turnoff on the way up.
Pitch 4. Although the little pocket in the 70-degree white friction slab holds protection, it’s useless: a fall will deposit the leader on the ground at the belay station. Above the slab, the climbing is a mixture of class 3 and class 4.
Rappels. On descent we down-climbed past the 70-degree friction slab. From the turnoff below the slab, descend east, then south, through well traveled class 3 terrain with scrubby trees. Look to the right around a corner, as described in Beckey’s CAG, to find a rap station with good bolts and chains. From it you can rappel to a second station with bolts and chains about 25 meters below it. From the second station it’s less than 25 meters to the notch.
The round trip from the Blue Lake Trailhead to the summit and back took us 6:45 hours, broken down as follows:
0:50 Trailhead to turnoff onto climbers’ path
1:10 Turnoff to notch
2:30 Notch to summit
(includes 0:45 in gearing up, minor routefinding, summit snacks)
0:45 Summit to notch via rappels
1:30 Notch to trailhead.
We’re middle-aged mortals; the weather was perfect; we never pushed the pace. We used one 60-meter rope.