2016 "Winter" Ascent of Pilot Rock

2016 "Winter" Ascent of Pilot Rock

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 42.03060°N / 122.5609°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Nov 24, 2016
Activities Activities: Mountaineering, Ice Climbing
Seasons Season: Fall, Winter

Thanksgiving 2016 Ascent of Pilot Rock

If you haven't seen the BLM beta video of climbing the NW Gully of Pilot Rock that video gives a good sense of what it's like in the dry months. Definitely a different ball game with snow, but doable as an alpine like mixed scramble. 

Conditions: 2016 was a big year for snow in CA and OR, and having been back in 2017 in fall and winter (2017 was a dry year though...) the conditions seemed like they were closer to mid winter for this climb. For example the snow was good enough that we were able to ski powder on north aspects of Mt Ashland the day before in 2016.  Approach: Easy hike in with patches for snow here and there that were a few inches deep. On the upper sections of the trail there were sections that were really good to have crampons. This is because of how steep it gets and there was ice on significant enough portions were we both lost our footing before putting on spikes. 

Climbing: I wouldn't do this if you're not comfortable scrambling or "free soloing" 4th/5th easy ice and mixed. Doing this in winter conditions is more committing than the 4th class dry scramble.

We climbed the NW Gully. Snow obscured most of the holds/ ledges and the friction sections were completely slick. It's already crappy rock already so didn't feel bad about the possibility for minimal crampon scarring. But the crampons were invaluable since they let you actually use the tiny edges and bits of ice. The "vertical sections" that are in that BLM video occasionally had enough ice in them to actually swing tools into. But where there were areas that water could pool and refreeze made for solid swings. The top friction section was the least secure as we had to figure out which patches of snow were on small "ledges", and which just slid off. You have to down climb the entire thing because even if you we had brought a rope there isn't much to build a minimal anchor off of, so we would of had to leave nuts, 'biners, and slings.

If you wanted to do it belayed not sure you could. I wouldn't trust cams when the rock is a slick as it was, and up higher there is not really places to put nuts. MAYBE a stubby screw could go into one of the small pools for the lower section. Don't use pitons. When you're at the top there isn't much you could build a rap off of. Good thing we didn't bring any pro or ropes... 

I wonder how long it'd normally take to melt out/ refreeze the snow that piles up on Pilot Rock. Unfortunately I didn't get to climb it again in 2016 as I messed up my MCL at Mt. Bachelor during the winter. But it's would have been interesting to see if more ice formed, and how the approach would have changed. In 2017 I climbed it around Christmas but it was almost completely dry because of how the precip was in 17/18.

Unfortunately don't have any other photos since recently the phone they were on died, AND the computer backup of them died... 

NW Gully
NW Gully
Pilot Rock Nov 2016
Descending from the summit of Pilot Rock Thanksgiving 2016. Summit is about 10 ft to the right of the photo.


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